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MADISON - Less than a month ago, Nick Thomas felt a school like Wisconsin was out of reach for him, especially since he was young linebacker still learning and improving his craft. His opinion of himself certainly changed in a hurry.
Getting his first offer from the Badgers in mid-May, the 6-2, 215-pound linebacker at Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy knew Wisconsin was the perfect place for him following his unofficial visit Wednesday-Thursday, as he gave his commitment to the coaching staff.
"I was under the radar and from the Midwest, so I didn't think I was as good as I actually was," Thomas told BadgerNation. "I don't know how to describe it, but I feel like Wisconsin is a perfect fit for me now. I am so excited to be there."
Thomas had an idea that Wisconsin would be his college of choice and knew it very early into the trip.
"The college town, the aspect of it, was beautiful," said Thomas. "I flew in and it was between the two lakes and when I landed, everyone I saw was all Wisconsin, Badgers, Badger Nation, wearing all kinds of Wisconsin gear. It's just a true college town and it got me going."
Thomas took a campus tour, stadium tour and met with the Wisconsin coaching staff, further cementing the Badgers as the right fit.
"I love the coaches," said Thomas, adding he will graduate early to participate in spring drills next year. "Coach Aranda is a great guy, great coach. I met some of the other players and they had nothing but good things to say. I am really excited about it. I instantly had that feeling that this was the right place for me."
Thomas is the ninth commitment for Wisconsin's 2015 recruiting class and the third in six days. Not currently rated by Scout.com, Thomas picked the Badgers over offers from Hawaii and Nevada and interest from Duke, Kansas, Miami and Syracuse. He also recently camped at Miami, earning MVP at his position.
Thomas has trained at middle linebacker, outside linebacker and strong safety for his school, the Badgers like Thomas at middle linebacker in their 3-4 defense."The middle linebacker position at Wisconsin is a lot of one-on-ones versus running backs on the pass rush," said Thomas. "I excel at the pass rush, so I am really excited about that. Also their ability to drop into coverage at the same time is also where I excel. I just feel like I can move sideline to sideline well, so I feel I would be a perfect fit there."
Originally from Concordia, Kansas, Thomas made the move to Bradenton to play for Chris Weinke, a former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida State 2000, and to further test himself as a football player.
"Without coming here, I wouldn't have received any offers," said Thomas. "Back in Kansas, I was a raw athlete. I had the skills, but I didn't have the technique, the practice, the teaching or the proper coaching. After I moved here, the coaching staff here are all great coaches and taught me the correct technique."
Saying at one point he hoped his Wisconsin offer would lead to more opportunities, Thomas is excited to consider himself committed.
"I really want to play at Wisconsin, and I am committed for a reason," said Thomas. "I am not one of those kids that is going to commit to another school later on."