Wisconsin is heading into a huge recruiting weekend on campus, but Nick Thomas decided to get things started early with a commitment to the Badgers on Thursday morning.
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound prospect from IMG Academy in Florida pledged to Wisconsin one day after taking an unofficial visit. He is UW's ninth commitment in the 2015 class and first at the linebacker position.
"I just committed to Wisconsin," Thomas told BadgerBlitz.com. "I woke up early yesterday to get out there and it was a long day for me, but I loved it. It's a beautiful place with beautiful facilities and I loved everything about it.
"The coaches were great people and something just felt right. I knew if was the place for me."
Wisconsin was Thomas' third offer (Nevada and Hawaii), but the junior was also receiving interest from Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas, Duke and Virginia, among others. The Badgers, led by defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, offered in late May and Thomas' pledge certainly wasn't unexpected.
"When I called to tell coach Aranda today, he sounded relived and excited," said Thomas, who is originally from Kansas. "He's a great guy and I like him a lot. I love the way he coaches and I can't wait to be part of his linebacker core."
When Thomas arrived in Madison he saw a sea of red throughout the campus.
"The atmosphere about it being a college town is great and really unique," said Thomas, who had 106 tackles as a junior. "The facilities are great and all updated but at the same time, the campus has a tradition and historic background. The fans and students are crazy. Right when I arrived, everyone was wearing Wisconsin gear and that was pretty exciting."
The Badgers will lose five linebackers to graduation at the end of the 2014 season with Marcus Trotter, Michael Trotter, Derek Landisch, Sherard Cadogan and Josh Harrison heading into their senior seasons. Thomas is just the start to what will be a crucial recruiting position for the coaching staff.
"He (Aranda) said that they are looking to bring in around four inside linebackers," said Thomas, who also competes in sprints in track and field. "That's a big number but I'm not really worried. I'll have to earn my spot but I should have an advantage because I'll graduate early and get spring ball under my belt.
"That was what I was hoping for, to get my decision out of the way before my senior year. I wanted it to be towards the end of the summer but this is a lot better because I'll get to have my whole summer to focus on my team."
IMG Academy head coach Chris Weinke, who deals with a number of Division 1 prospects, thinks his linebacker will be a great fit in Madison.
"I think Wisconsin is going to be a great fit for Nick Thomas," Weinke said in a release. "He's our team captain, a leader on defense and an athletic linebacker that can play any of those positions for the Badgers."