Some players in his position might have chosen to watch from the sidelines, but Clevan Thomas had something to prove when he made his first trip to Lexington last July.
Thomas — a 5-foot-11 wide receiver from Miami — was still banged up from a recent injury when he hopped in a car, traveled 14 hours and hit the practice field almost immediately for the Wildcats’ biggest camp of the summer.
“It didn’t faze him,” recalled UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. “He went out and that’s what you see in him: the competition, that he’s hungry. So they drive 14 hours, get out of a car and within an hour they’re out there practicing.
“A lot of guys won’t do that.”
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Thomas already had a scholarship offer from the Cats at that time. He already knew Gran and wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas, and he had seemingly already done enough to earn their respect. Thomas wanted more from his first trip to UK.
“I just came here to show, ‘Hey, I’m really serious about Kentucky,’” he said. “I wanted to win over all of the coaches. I wanted all of the coaches to see, ‘Hey, this is the guy.’ They put out the DBs they recruited, and I just did what I do.
“I showed what I wanted to show, that I was ready to be a part of this team.”
Thomas was one of the camp standouts that weekend, and he committed to the Cats the very next day.
According to the player composite rankings for UK’s class of 2017 commitments, Thomas’ talent level is middle of the pack. But, as of now, few seem to have a better chance to make an immediate impact this fall.
Thomas is already enrolled in classes at UK and will be with the Cats for spring practice. His reputation as a dependable slot receiver precedes him, and his early arrival, coupled with the Cats’ need for more options at that position, should help him see the field right away.
“I feel like there’s a great opportunity for me to play,” Thomas said. “The only thing I need to work on is learning the playbook. I know my ability on the field will handle itself. If I get in the playbook, keep my body right, I’ll be able to play.”