Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss 5-star offensive lineman Kardell Thomas, who is emerging as the leader of LSU’s 2019 recruiting class. With that title comes great responsibilities.
Kardell Thomas emerging as the leader of LSU’s 2019 class
BATON ROUGE, La. — With great power comes great responsibility.
Such is the case with Kardell Thomas, LSU’s 5-star offensive lineman commit and the centerpiece of the team’s 2019 recruiting class. Thomas embodies the persona of the Tigers and has added more to his plate in recent weeks, including a newfound responsibility.
Yes, the All-American guard is being touted as the leader of LSU’s 2019 class. Thomas is the longest-tenured member of the group behind only 4-star defensive back Maurice Hampton, who gave his commitment nine days earlier. But there are other reasons why this title seems fitting.
The blue-chip lineman has been committed to the Tigers for 16 months, but schools such as Florida, Texas, Alabama and Georgia continue to pursue a flip. That puts Thomas in the limelight more often than not, so when coach Ed Orgeron brought the 5-star prospect in for a closed-door meeting, he made it known that he’s the right person to lead this 2019 group.
Since then, Thomas has accepted the responsibility and, quietly, ran with it.
“Once I had committed and then I went to the U.S. Army Combine, people saw that I was the real deal,” Thomas told SEC Country. “After that, a lot of colleges started to reach out and I got more offers and more exposure. When Coach O called me in for a meeting, he showed me that PowerPoint and made me look at the board of who they wanted and who they don’t. He said: ‘You’re our leader. You’re the biggest person in our class. You have to lead this team to a national championship and I’ve held that role ever since.’
“It’s not really pressure, but yeah, it’s pressure, knowing you have to come in and be ready to go. You have to come in ready, which I will be, taking on a role like that. It’s something that I’ve got to get ready for and something I know I’ve got to do.”
So, what exactly does the job entail?
Thomas is partly responsible for recruiting some other area prospects to Baton Rouge and also to keep the 2019 recruiting class — which ranks No. 4 in the nation — intact. So far, it’s going better than expected.
“I ain’t going to lie, there are a lot of people who are committed to other places that actually do want to take a look at LSU. Everybody does,” Thomas smiled. “Some people … I wouldn’t say they want to de-commit and come to LSU, but you know, they’re iffy about it. I know some guys that really want to come to LSU, or take a look at LSU.”
“I’m not just the recruiter,” he added, “I’m the person that basically keeps the class together.”
Kardell Thomas eyeing 2 blue-chip pieces for the ’19 class
As mentioned, part of Thomas’ duties lie within adding the final pieces to the Tigers’ 2019 recruiting class that can put the program over the edge to make a run toward a national championship.
Thus far, he is eyeing two signature prospects.
The first is 4-star Dunham (La.) School cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. A one-time LSU commit, Stingley has since seen his recruitment take off, leading his de-commitment last spring. The 2019 Army All-American remains a priority for Orgeron and secondary coach Corey Raymond and, subsequently, for Thomas as well.
“I’ve got to get Derek to re-commit,” he said. “I would say to do it for your hometown. I don’t want to say that they [LSU] needs us, but we’ll help. You have to come in and be ready to go. If we can get him back, he would be a great addition.”
The newest prospect who landed on Thomas’ radar is 5-star IMG Academy (Fla.) running back Noah Cain. Thomas and Cain, who are both natives of Baton Rouge, connected in Tuscaloosa, Ala., earlier this month when LSU traveled to Alabama.
Cain has maintained his hometown school in his top group of schools, but has also taken a liking to Thomas’ violent play along the offensive line. Thomas is using that to help bring Cain on board and pair him with his Southern Lab (La.) teammate Tyrion Davis.
“Noah was like: ‘Basically, I want to run behind you,'” Thomas recalled. “He’s iffy. A lot of people are iffy; they don’t know what they want to do yet. We’ll see on signing day for a lot of these people, but my pitch to Noah is to come run behind me. You know what I can do, and basically, just to come back home.”
LSU’s 2019 class, comprised of seven commitments, currently ranks No. 4 in the country and No. 3 in the SEC. Blue-chip prospects such as Cain and Stingley remain squarely in the team’s plans between now and next year’s signing day.
With Thomas behind the wheel, he’s confident this class proves it’s worth all of the hype, especially as it adds those final pieces to push for the top spot in the rankings and, more importantly, to push LSU over the top as a legitimate championship contender.
“We’ve got beasts, dogs. We’re going to come in and cause havoc,” Thomas declared. “We’ve got Maurice, Kenyon [Green], [Quentin] Skinner and [Thomas Perry] at Teurlings Catholic. It’s going to be a great class. I expect us to go in and do what they think we’ll do — go in and be what they say we are, a national championship team. All we talk about is the 2019 class. If we can get those guys, that’s what they’ll be saying.”
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