A brutal weekend for the Maryland football team got worse Sunday night, when reports emerged that Massachusetts running back Johnathan Thomas had reneged on his oral commitment to the Terrapins and flipped to Penn State.
“I’m very excited and blessed to be a part of the Penn State family,” Thomas told Lions247, the Penn State affiliate within the 247sports network. “Penn State has always been my dream school and it is truly a blessing to know that I will be getting an outstanding education at Penn State University.”
Speaking to BlueWhiteIllustrated, the Penn State affiliate at Rivals, Thomas credited Nittany Lions Coach Bill O’Brien, an alumnus of Thomas’ current high school St. John’s Prep, with changing his allegiances. Even after Thomas committed to Maryland in early May, Penn State continued to pursue the top-ranked Massachusetts recruit for the class of 2014, eventually offering a scholarship in September.
After Thomas underwent recent season-ending ACL surgery, Maryland stuck by its only committed running back for the upcoming class, A dynamic running back who made SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays” for a 107-yard interception return, Thomas seemed fully intent on honoring his commitment to the Terrapins.
“He is verbally committed to Maryland, and I fully expect him to stick with that,” his high school coach Jim O’Leary told Terrapin Times on Oct. 3. “And I fully expect for Maryland to honor that commitment, because this is not a career-ending injury.”
Back in May, Thomas picked Maryland over offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Arkansas and Virginia.
“Now the recruiting process, it’s exciting. You feel loved,” he said then. “And then again, you feel stressed out, because you’ve got everybody coming at you, trying to pressure you, telling you this and that. You have to find out what is the truth. When you try to win somebody over, you’re going to try to do whatever you can. If that means lie to them, lie to them. You have to figure out who’s going to be real with you, and who’s not going to be real with you. You have to figure out who’s going to help you in the long run with things, where can you be successful in the long run. That’s what I felt about Maryland.”
According to 247sports.com, Maryland has only one offer out to an uncommitted 2014 running back: four-star Shai McKenzie from Washington (Penn.) High School, who isn’t considered a real target by any stretch. Rivals lists an offer to four-star Derrell Scott from Havelock, N.C., who again isn’t considered to have Maryland anywhere close to high on his list. If the Terps want a running back for their upcoming class, they’ll have to start scrambling.
Thomas did not immediately respond to text messages seeking comment. More on this as it becomes available. Maryland travels to Penn State on Nov. 1, 2014, the Terps’ first season in the Big Ten.