Kamani Thomas Interview

Michigan only has four spots left in the 2012 recruiting class. After the coaches gained a commitment from Drake Johnson and  missed out on Brionte Dunn and a few other running back prospects, they seem to be done with RB recruiting this year. Theres nothing to worry about, though. Hoke and Co. are already looking forward to what the running backs in the 2013 class have to offer.

Kamani Thomas(Photo Courtesy of Rivals)
One 2013 prospect to look out for on the recruiting trail next year is Dallas (Ga) East Paulding High School RB Kamani Thomas. Thomas is a 5-foot-9 190 pound running back has been compared by some to Alabama's current running back, Trent Richardson. It's a general consensus that Thomas will be the number one running back prospect in Georgia for next year. Thomas is the complete package at his respected position. He is extremely elusive, which gives him the "shake and bake ability" that leaves defenders in the dust. He has enough top-end speed to outrun almost everyone that he faces on the turf. Lastly, he has the physicality and strength to plow defenders over while running in the open field. He doesn't shy away from contact whether it's on the edge of the field or between the hasmarks. He also resembles Richardson mainly because of his pass-catching ability out of the backfield, which may be Thomas's most valuable asset.Thomas said in an article a few months back that Michigan was his 'dream school'. "If it was my choice, I’d sign with Michigan,” Thomas told the AJC. “I’ve always been a Michigan fan. My dad is a Michigan fan. I’ve got a lot of family up there.”

Kamani Thomas runs around a defender(Photo Courtesy of Dallas-Hiram Patch)

I recently got in contact with Kamani and he agreed to talk with me and do a quick interview.

SimplyComplex: You've come out and said that Michigan is your outright leader, what do you like the most about Michigan?

Kamani Thomas: I've always liked michigan and now that there back to the I-Formation I like them even more.

SC: How did your Michigan visit go?

KT: The visit was okay, expected a little more out of it,though. (Me:What do you mean?)
I just figured we would be able to talk to the coaches more than what we did and really look at things around the campus or facilities.

SC: Did you talk to any of the coaches? If so, what about?

KT: I talked to Coach Montgomery for a second, but thats about it.

SC: Any you good friends with any other players in Georgia?

KT: Yes, I'm good friends with Shaq Wiggins. He's a great cornerback.

SC: What are you looking for in a university and coaching staff?

KT: In the coaching staff I'm just looking for that winning environment and that want for me as much as me for them.

SC: How does it feel to be the number one RB in the state of Georgia?

KT: Being No. 1 RB is humbling just gotta keep working hard to stay there.

SC: What kind of runner would you describe yourself?

KT: I would describe myself as a power runner, but fast enough to out-run a defender if I have to.

SC: What other schools have been recruiting you?
KT: Alabama, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Duke, Southern Miss, Troy, and LSU.

Kamani Thomas Sophomore Highlights

As you can see, Thomas will be one of the premiere backs in the entire country come next year. As a sophomore, Thomas ran for 1,901 yards in 13 games, averaged 8 yards a game, ran an average 22 times a game, and scored 22 total touchdowns. Thomas visited Michigan a few weeks back, and came away thoroughly impressed. Thomas hasn't received a Michigan offer yet, but I'm positive that the coaches will be in contact with him soon enough to give him that prestigious Michigan offer.

Site News and new friends

I am sure you noticed but we have new contributor to the site. Brook Banks. He will give us some deeper looks at commits and prospects that Michigan will be bringing or going after. I think this will be a great addition to the site since with High School prospects were never really know much about their game other then the stats they put up or the "they are so fast they can catch a chicken" memes. Brooks first post was on Jehu Chesson  and it was a dandy.

So everyone welcome him and follow this dude, he is what I call "legit".

Also I will have a live blog up this Saturday Night(12am). It will be the only pre-bowl Live blog. Be there or else.

Film Breakdown: Jehu Chesson

Here's my plan, I'm going to watch the highlight films of current Michigan commits, and do a deep breakdown of what I see. My hope is to give you a better understanding of what makes each player so talented. Also I hope to be more specific and less general.

Each player is unique in the way they play the game. For example Junior Hemingway is a much different receiver than Jeremy Gallon. Junior Hemingway is a physical receiver who is great at boxing out a DB on a jump ball, whereas Jeremy Gallon is a quick, elusive receiver who is good at running with the ball after the catch. My point is that every player has those attributes that make them unique and affect how they are used. After reading these articles I hope you feel like you know exactly what kind of player Michigan is getting.

We will start this series with commit 24, Jehu Chesson. As a Wide Receiver five skills determine how successful a player is: hands, route running, speed/acceleration, athleticism, and physicality/separation.

Junior Year http://youtu.be/OUbwWqLOFOg
Senior Year http://youtu.be/y64PkHcuhrM

Hands- First thing that jumps out at me is the way he catches the ball, it's textbook. He catches the ball using his hands and fingers with his arms extended away from his body. This kind of technique leads me to believe he rarely drops passes. Rarely, if ever, does he catch the ball with his body. He is not afraid to catch the ball over the middle of the field. This is where catching the ball with your hands is very important. If you catch the ball with your body it's harder to maintain possession of the ball. If you have a firm grip on the ball with your hands it's easier to control. I also like the ability to catch under thrown balls near the ground, this shows great hand-eye coordination. He has multiple catches like this and is a valuable skill. Lastly, the first play of his junior highlight tape, you cant catch a jump ball any better than that. He high points the ball very well, (catches the ball at the highest point of his jump). In all, Chesson looks to have excellent technique catching the football.

Route Running- To me this is the area of Chesson's game that needs to improve the most. Running good routes is all about timing, especially in Michigan's offense. There are a couple different plays where Jehu gets pushed off his route or cuts off a route early and this causes him to be in the wrong spot of the field. That leads to inaccurate passes. Because these are highlight tapes this only leads to the sliding or diving ground catches I already talked about. I am assuming this caused a few incompletions that we don't see on his tapes. He needs to do a better job of breaking off his routes to get separation too. When making a cut you need to drop your hips, get low, and explode out of your break. Jehu doesn't really do any of that, more simply he just runs his routes from point A to point B to point C. I would say that isn't much different than most other high school wide receivers. One positive is that route running is something that can be coached and I'm sure the coaches at Michigan can't wait to teach him the correct way to run routes.

Speed/Acceleration- When talking about this I am only going by one thing, what I see. No forty times, track times, or any other measure of speed other than how fast a player looks on film. I will start by saying Jehu's speed is good not great. Jehu is a player that is great at catching screens and turning them into a lot of yards. His running motion is very fluid and he can absolutely be a threat at getting yards after the catch. However, too many times you expect him to hit that next level and just take off from the rest of the pack. That rarely happens with him and that is against high school level talent, players will be much faster in college. Luckily with his height at 6'3, he doesn't need to be a burner. He has plenty of speed to stretch the field and be a real deep threat without being a true game breaker.

Athleticism- This is what makes Jehu such an intriguing prospect to me, he really is a great athlete. At 6'3, body control and leaping ability can make an average player look like a superstar. And the first play in his junior year highlight screams superstar, that is an amazing play at any level of football. When he gets the ball he doesn't look to be explosive, but instead elusive. He is very good at making one or two cuts that get an extra 5-10 yards, that should carry over into college. What makes him great in my opinion is his leaping ability and body control while in the air. I already talked about the first play of his junior tape, but on many occasions he out jumps a defender or catches the ball and adjusts in the air. One play that to me really shows off his athleticism is at 3:05 on his senior highlight tape, he catches the ball and as soon as he lands he makes a cut away from the defender in front of him. You just can't teach that kind of athleticism.

Physicality/Separation- Jehu looks like a different player in his senior season compared to his junior season, this says to me that he is still developing physically. Watch the play at 2:30 of his Senior highlight tape and that will tell you everything you need to know about his physicality. At 6'3 and 185 lbs, he has the frame to add 20 pounds and be just as effective and athletic. Separation is always the overlooked skill every wide receiver needs to succeed. Separation is basically the ability to get off the line of scrimmage and get space between yourself and the corner back. There are two ways to do this. First one is to be quicker and faster than the corner. The second is to be more physical and out muscle the corner. Jehu has enough speed to get separation from some corners but his size and ability to put a defender on his back hip is what makes him special. That natural ability is what makes guys like Zack Novak good rebounders in basketball or how Junior Hemingway has saved all of us from doing a lot of cussing at Denard this past season.

In Conclusion- Jehu Chesson to me looks like a very complete wide receiver. He will never be a game breaker in the sense of a Mario Manningham or Steve Breaston. He is a taller receiver that can go up over a defense to make a catch and get some yards after the catch. In my mind I am seeing a Jason Avant type player. I am not sure how he is only a 3 star. I think we found a very good player that I am excited to see in the Maize and Blue.

Oh By The Way- Since this is my first post ever, I would love to hear feedback and opinions be them positive or negative. Also if you would like, please follow me on twitter @iAmBrookBanks
(Be advised, that is a personal account and is not Michigan sports based. I am a theatre student who performs stand up comedy and from time to time I like to make jokes. I just need more followers.)

We remember the 2011 regular season.....in picture form.

fMichigan vs. Western Michigan

 Michigan vs. Notre Dame

Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan

Michigan vs. San Diego State

Michigan vs. Minnesota

Michigan vs Northwestern

Michigan vs. Michigan State

Michigan vs. Purdue

Michigan vs. Iowa

Michigan vs. Illinois

Michigan vs. Nebraska

Michigan vs. Ohio State

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