Searels Pursues Underrated, Athletic 2015 OL Kenny Thomas

The Hokies were fortunate to lose just one full time starting offensive lineman heading into the 2014 season, Andrew Miller, but they won't be so lucky in 2015.

Veteran guard/center Caleb Farris and tackle Laurence Gibson will both be getting their degrees and leaving Blacksburg, as will sometime starter David Wang.

Combined with the loss of backup tackle Mark Shuman and the unpredictable medical situation confronting guard/tackle Brent Benedict, offensive line coach Stacy Searels knows that depth on the line will very quickly be an issue for the Hokies.

Accordingly, Searels has headed back to his old stomping grounds in the South to try and win the services of tackle Kenny Thomas of Prattville, Alabama.

"I know Coach Searels has ties to this area, so he came down here last fall and saw Kenny moving around and got interested," said Prattville HS head coach Chad Anderson. "Then he came back last spring and saw the progression he made since then, and liked it."

Searels has since helped win over Thomas with his easygoing nature.

"I really like Virginia Tech, and Coach Searels is a really cool guy," Thomas said. "We talk every day. Even if we have nothing to talk about, we still talk."

Searels also made it plain that the Hokies had a need at the position, and playing time could come quickly.

"He made it clear that I'd definitely get an opportunity to play," Thomas said.

Anderson agrees that Searels made the Hokies' needs clear early and often.

"He said they need help next year, that the offensive line is a key concern," Anderson said.

As an Auburn graduate, it's no shock that Searels knows how to find talent in the area, but he might not have ever found Thomas had he not transferred schools to join Anderson at Prattville.

He played his first few years at Montgomery's Saint James School, a much smaller program where Thomas didn't get much interest.

"He didn't get a lot of exposure at his old school, but we had more than 100 recruiters come through last spring," Anderson said. "But he's handled it well. He really had to pick up the pace coming from a smaller school, but he didn't back down."

While some coaches are starting to notice Thomas, he remains unranked by 247Sports and is rated a 3-star prospect by Rivals.com.

But Anderson thinks that once people get a look at Thomas, they'll start to change their tune.

"He's got really good hands for a lineman," Anderson said. "And his work ethic is just so good. He does everything you ask him to. He doesn't mind running gassers or working hard in the weight room."

The coach says that Thomas is a mild mannered kid off the field, but when he puts his pads on, the 6'6", 330 pound rising senior has impressive intensity.

"When he gets on the field, he comes off the ball hard," Anderson said. "He wants the other guy to feel it."

That combination of intensity and pro-ready size has earned Thomas offers from programs like Mississippi State, Minnesota and Memphis, as well as interest from a few others.

"Mississippi State and Texas State have offered me, so I'm looking at them, and Louisville as well," Thomas said.

Thomas says that each school that's contacted him has wanted to keep him at tackle, but his coach thinks he'll be flexible based on what his future team needs.

"I think he can play tackle at the next level, but Kenny will go play whatever position his team needs," Anderson said. "He's got going to concern himself with guard or tackle, he's not the type of kid to care."

As he evaluates those programs, Thomas says he's looking at three main factors.

"I'm thinking about playing time, getting a good education and how the team did last season," Thomas said.

While Tech's 8-5 record from the season before might not make the Hokies look particularly impressive, Anderson says Thomas is still taking Tech very seriously.

"He really likes it there, and his parents want him to go off, not just stay at home," Anderson said. "I think Virginia Tech is probably his top choice right about now."

The Hokies will get a chance to show Thomas around Blacksburg this weekend, as he's planning to make his first visit to Tech in the coming days.

"I'll be going down on August 8, and staying for Fan Appreciation Day the next day," Thomas said.

Once he visits, he'll take his time making his final decision on a school.

"I probably won't decide until midseason, around the fifth game or so," Thomas said.

In the meantime, Anderson says he'll be doing what he always does — working hard to get better.

"He can definitely work on his conditioning, his mobility," Anderson said. "He just always looks to improve."

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Comments

6'6 300#'s already? Hell yes we want this guy, we need some more big uglies!

Damn the Man! Save the Empire!

'01, Bravo Company, Hokies, Midshipmen, Lakers, Dodgers, Nationals, da Raiders.

I think the common denominator with the last couple of National champions was the average weight of the O-line was 300+ lbs. We need 'em big!

"Sure, I've been called a xenophobe, but the truth is, I'm not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called patriotism." Kenny Powers

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2013/05/final-thats-what-she-said.gif?w=680

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

With all his physical tools, Thomas was made to play OL. He would thrive under coach Searels. Hopefully he commits to Tech soon before all the SEC schools come calling.

I live here in Alabama and I have an under the radar guy that I think could be good. I am not an expert by any stretch, but if I were to pass along this info to people in our program who care/need to know - how would I do it?

Note: Grimes met him 2 years ago when he was a sophomore and Grimes was at Auburn. He was impressed with the kid in the weight room. I had told his dad, who runs the local training facility that Grimes was now at Tech, which got him excited - now, we may have to compete with Grimes...if he remembers him

Fortune Favors the Bold

IIRC, that has something to do with Ballein. The same thing happened with Steven Peoples.

Shouldn't it be the guy we just hired from Georgia, Thomas Guerry? Isn't he our new recruiting coordinator?

Let's hope the new coach can seal the deal and keep the momentum going that Grimes started

VT 2016
Go Hokies