There were several hats placed deliberately across three well-decorated tables. A recording of The Late Great Whitney Houston’s rendition of our national anthem kicked off the proceedings, as promised in the program.
A marching band accompanied the three men of the hour and their families into the gym. Mothers thanked God and fought back tears as they took their turns at the podium, and each overcome with pride in their respective son.
There was only one thing missing from the marathon of an event: suspense.
“I’ve been committed to LSU for four years,” hulking guard Kardell Thomas announced to the packed crowd of family, friends and classmates. “Y’all already know where I’m going. It ain’t no question.”
Thomas and his teammate, running back Tyrion Davis, formally signed their Letters of Intent with LSU Wednesday afternoon at an emotional-yet-drama-free ceremony in the gymnasium at Southern Lab School.
By putting pen to paper, the cross-town stars cemented their place in a 2019 recruiting class trending toward a top-five finish nationally. Between Thomas, Davis and Derek Stingley Jr. of Dunham, the nucleus of the class formed right here in Baton Rouge.
Thomas, a five-star offensive guard, has made himself into the ringleader of this 2019 class for LSU. He’s what LSU coach Ed Orgeron refers to as a “bell cow,” a recruit so solid in his commitment that he recruits others.
If you can’t tell by his show-stopping suit, Thomas possesses a larger-than-life personality that thrives as the center of attention. His mother, Janice Thomas, stole the show during her time at the podium, bragging about Kardell’s grades before proclaiming he’d be a Freshman All-American.
Having committed to LSU back in 2016, Thomas naturally started working on attracting Davis into the fold. His offer didn’t come until the summer of 2017, but once it did, he became the first running back to join the class.
They’ve been teammates going back to the eighth grade with one blocking for the other, and now they’ve signed up for three-or-four years of the same.
“I helped Ty make this decision,” Thomas said. “He told me he wanted to keep running behind me, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to work hard to start, and we’re going to be the same thing that we were here: legends.”
“He’s the No. 1 guard in the nation for a reason, you know, so I know we’re going to get a few national championships,” Davis said. “With me and (five-star signee) John (Emery) running behind him, it’s going to be good.”
The dynamic duo won a state championship together as freshman and have worked their way toward blue chip status ever since.
Friday night lights are the chance to accrue glory and accolades, but for Davis, the memories that’ll last are the time him and Thomas spent in the gym together. All the hard work that made the signing ceremony both special and a long time coming.
“It’s so many memories I can’t think of one,” Davis said. “The best moments were when we were in the weight room together, grinding and helping each other out, lifting each other up. Those are my best moments together.”
There shall be more memories to be made over the next three-to-four years for Thomas and Davis, but they’ll be doing so on the other side of town.