WALKER – Even before he played his first down of varsity football, Walker High’s Brian Thomas Jr. landed a scholarship offer from LSU.
Thomas was several months removed from helping the school’s basketball team win its first Class 5A state championship, a game in which he was selected Most Outstanding Player after scoring 20 points in the Wildcats’ 62-57 overtime victory over Landry-Walker.
Thomas stepped foot in LSU’s indoor facility and put on quite a show in his first camp setting. There was a mix of tremendous athleticism and speed, along with a ray of potential, that resulted in his first scholarship offer before taking a snap and running his first varsity route that fall for the Wildcats.
What’s taken place over the past three years has been the development of one of the top careers of two-sport athletes in the Baton Rouge area which the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Thomas, a four-star prospect, officially brought to a close Tuesday signing with LSU during a ceremony in his school’s gymnasium.
“It’s just a blessing,” Thomas said. “I’ve been playing football since I was six years old. This is what I’ve been dreaming for growing up, playing for the college that I chose. It’s just a blessing to be in this position.”
Thomas, the nation’s No. 13 wide receiver and state’s fourth-rated prospect by 247Sports, is the 23rd member of LSU’s Class of 2021 now rated third nationally by 247Sports.
He also gives LSU its fifth wide receiver in a class that includes five of the nation’s top 57 receivers and is the ninth prospect from Louisiana, including six of the Top 10 to remain in state and play for the Tigers.
“I feel like the wide receiver (meeting) room will be great if we go in every day, push each other to be the best that we can be,” Thomas said. “If we do that, we can do big things.”
Thomas eschewed the NCAA’s early signing period in December, taking his time with the recruiting process with an eye on the second signing period that began Feb. 3.
Thomas wanted to further study new offensive hires by LSU head football Ed Orgeron who brought on Jake Peetz and D.J. Mangas of the Carolina Panthers in the roles of offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, respectively.
He said the Tigers had been his leader for the past month, but chose to carefully consider other SEC schools such as Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M.
At the time of his 1 o’clock ceremony Thomas said he hadn’t contacted Orgeron to inform him of his decision which took place in a video on the gym’s message board.
“LSU’s coaching staff has been there for me,” Thomas said. “Coming in with the new offensive scheme, the one they had in 2019 when they won the (national) championship, I felt like it would fit me well and that I could go in there and compete, maybe get in my freshman year if I go up there and compete. I felt like it’s the place for me to be.”
Thomas praised the depth of LSU’s quarterbacks, in particular sophomore Max Johnson, for being another drawing card along with the team’s offensive scheme and program’s atmosphere.
“They’ve told me how I can come in and help them out tremendously,” he said of LSU’s coaches. “How they’re going to get me involved in space.”
Thomas was a three-year starter for Walker in football and three-year starter of the school’s basketball team for which he’s not playing for this year.
He was a first-team All-District selection in football three years, was a Class 5A All-State honorable mention choice each season and was the Livingston Parish Offensive MVP each of the last two seasons.
Thomas enjoyed a banner year as a junior where he was among the state’s top receivers with 75 catches for 1,272 yards and 17 touchdowns. He helped Walker to an 8-3 record that featured the program’s first Class 5A state playoff victory (63-21) over Thibodaux.
He started for three years in basketball where he scored more than 1,000 points, was selected to the All-District 4-5A All-Parish first teams as a sophomore and junior and was a second team Class 5A All-State selection as a junior.
“I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision,” Thomas said. “I wanted to make sure when I went there, there were no changes like the wide receivers coach. I wanted to make sure it was the right thing. LSU’s the right decision for me.”