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December 30, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- Alliance (Ohio) Marlington athlete Dymonte Thomas has been a two-way star throughout his high school career, but at this week's U.S. Army All-American he will be focused solely on safety -- the position he expects to play at Michigan.
"My goal coming into this game is just becoming a better athlete," Thomas said. "I just really want to try to compete, be the best I can be and see how ready I am for college."
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound Thomas is expected to play a more traditional safety role safety this week at the Army Bowl. At Marlington, his role on the defense required him to play closer to the line of scrimmage, so this experience will be a greater test of his coverage skills.
"With covering I have trouble sometimes turning my hips, but one thing I will do is go get the ball and come downhill and make tackles," Thomas said. "But it's just about going out there, having fun and enjoying the game."
Thomas will be pulling double-duty as player and recruiter this week. He is one of four Michigan commits playing in the game, and would like to raise that number to five by enticing five-star Richmond (Va.) Hermitage running back Derrick Green to commit to the Wolverines.
"I am waiting for him to get here," Thomas said. "I am going to talk to him, see what he is thinking and hopefully we can get him to commit during the game. I will let him use my hat if he wanted to put it on.
"Hopefully he will commit to us. He could make a great impact for us and we'd have two great running backs. I feel like if we could get him we would be really, really good the next few years."
Thomas made his commitment to Michigan more than 15 months ago. During that time he has gotten to know many of his fellow class of 2013 commitments, and looks forward to sharing the Army Bowl experience with several of them in San Antonio.
"We are really, really close. On our official visit we were all together. We each had our own hotel rooms, but we didn't need them because just stayed in each other's room. We're pretty much like brothers already and I think that is going to help us in college because we already have that chemistry.
Two years ago, Thomas could not picture him wearing Michigan gear and committing to the Wolverines. The Ohio native grew up a fan of the home state Buckeyes, Michigan's bitter rival.
"I was born in North Carolina and grew up an Ohio State fan," Thomas said. "I always thought about Michigan. I liked the winged helmet and thought the colors were pretty sweet. I remember my dad, though, when I was younger saying I couldn't go there. When I committed my dad said, 'I can't believe you did that,' but he was kind of glad and said it doesn't matter where I go to college as long as I get that degree."
Ohio State did offer Thomas after he committed to Michigan and he admitted he had thoughts about maybe making his decision too early, but the bond he has developed with his fellow Wolverine commits has solidified his plans to attend school in Ann Arbor.
Thomas is an early enrollee and plans to fly home, pack a truck and drive to Ann Arbor immediately following Saturday's Army Bowl.