5-Star LB Matthew Thomas at The Opening in July.
Miami (Fla.) Booker T. five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas was the crown jewel of Florida State's 2013 recruiting class. The 'Noles had to battle other top programs such as Miami, USC, Alabama and Georgia. In the end Jimbo Fisher got his guy, but there were several twists and turns along the way. Noles247.com caught up with Matthew Thomas about a week after Signing Day for an in-depth discussion on his recruitment and how he ended up signing with Florida State.
Josh Newberg: At what point did you know you were going to sign with Florida State?
Matthew Thomas: Well I decided that morning (Signing Day). The night before I was honestly thinking USC. I was trying to get the LOI and everything ready and signed first. But my mom didn't want to sign it. She didn't want me to go to USC.
JN: So if your mom would have signed the papers you'd be a Trojan right now?
MT: Yeah, I would have been a Trojan.
JN: Are you upset about that?
MT: No I think everything works out how it's supposed to. I'm going to make the best of my situation. It's not like I'm unhappy, I really like Florida State. It's not a problem, I'm happy with my decision.
JN: Tell me more about you and your mom's discussion. Did it get heated when she wouldn't sign the LOI?
MT: No we just talked and stuff. We couldn't agree, but it's my mom, I just did what I had to do.
JN: What was your feeling after your signing ceremony?
MT: I had butterflies. I was like, 'wow I really just did it'.
JN: What about that night when you got home and nobody else was around, the phone wasn't ringing and it was just you at home?
MT: I was feeling good. I was calm and felt like I made the right decision. Me and my mom had one more talk and everything was good.
JN: Tell me about Denver Kirkland, your good friend and teammate, were you surprised he signed with Arkansas?
MT: I knew that he was going to Arkansas. When that stuff happened with Miami, they took his scholarship, we talked and I said, 'I don't trust them, they'll do the same thing to me'. We worked out the night before Signing Day and I told him I was going to USC and he told me he was thinking about Miami, Ole Miss and Arkansas. He was saying he liked Arkansas and I said to go ahead if that's where your heart is at. The next day he signed with Arkansas, but I didn't tell him yet that I changed my mind. But then he told me that if I would have told him I was going to Florida State then he would have gone with me. He thought I was going to USC.
Booker T. teammates Matthew Thomas and Denver Kirkland.
JN: Did you tell the FSU staff or any other staff that you were going to USC?
MT: No. Well I told the coaches at USC, Lane Kiffin and them.
JN: What was your mindset before the Denver Kirkland drama? Were you leaning toward Miami at that point?
MT: No not really. I wanted to get away from home, I never really wanted to stay home.
JN: At the end of the process, how bad did the pressure get to stay home?
MT: It wasn't too bad at school. I was kind of isolated and stuff so it wasn't that bad. But on social networks and stuff that's where it was kind of bad. Fans wanting me to stay home, that's where it got bad.
JN: How did you stay in control of your recruitment with people always voicing their opinions on where you should go?
MT: Those are just opinions. I know what I want and I'm not going to let someone tell me where I should go. This was a big decision for me and I wasn't going to let someone else make a decision that I have to live with.
JN: What was the hardest part about not staying home and playing for Miami?
MT: I got five little brothers that wanted me to stay home so they could go to my home games and watch me play. It was hard to tell my brothers that I was leaving.
JN: James Coley recruited you at FSU for almost two years before taking a job at Miami. Was it hard to tell him that you weren't going to Miami?
MT: I think he already knew. When he was recruiting me at Florida State he asked me if Miami had a chance and I was like, 'not really'. I don't think he thought anything was going to change when he went to Miami.
JN: Did James Coley go after you when he was at Miami or did he spend too much time recruiting you to FSU for that to work?
MT: He didn't talk to me when he went to Miami. I talked to coach (Michael) Barrow and coach (Al) Golden.
JN: Was James Coley in on the final in-home visit the week before Signing Day?
MT: No he didn't come with them.
JN: Why do you think James Coley wasn't a part of your recruitment when he went to Miami?
MT: Because like he was trying to swing me to Florida State for so long, how are you gonna now persuade me to come to Miami? That just doesn't work.
JN: If you could name one or two primary reasons on why you chose FSU, what would they be?
MT: I trust coach Jimbo and I trust coach Pruitt.
JN: What was the conversation like between you and the FSU coaches after you signed your letter of intent?
MT: It was just like relief for all of us. Coach Fisher asked me how I felt about everything and I told him I feel good. I told him I'm ready to come in and get to work now.
JN: What was the best part of the recruiting process for you?
MT: The visits (big laugh). The whole experience of getting out of Miami, going on a plane, going to see new things, talk to new people, all that stuff. It was fun.
JN: Besides always having to do interviews with me, what was the worst part of the process?
MT: Like after the game having to do interviews with reporters. You are tired and just trying to get to the bus and you got reporters all in your chest trying to talk to you.
JN: Really? That was the worst part of the whole process?
MT: Yeah man. You are tired, your brain beat, you aren't thinking right. You got people coming up with cameras to do interviews and you are talking all stupid. I don't feel like talking after games.
JN: How old are you now? How old were you when you were a freshman in high school?
MT: I'm 17 now. I was like 14 in my freshman year.
JN: Do you think 14 year old Matthew Thomas would ever think he'd be signing with Florida State?
MT: Nah, nah, in 9th grade I wanted to go to Alabama.
JN: If 17 year Matthew Thomas went to 14 year old Matthew Thomas and told him to get his FSU gear ready because that's where you're going, what would the 14 year old Matthew Thomas say?
MT: Well I always kinda liked Florida State, but I'd be like, 'damn, I'm gonna make you regret those words and I'm gonna go somewhere else'. That's just the kinda kid I was.
JN: So even back in 9th grade you didn't see yourself playing for Miami?
MT: I liked Miami a lot too. I looked up to a lot of those guys. I wanted to play for the 'U', I was throwing up the 'U' all the time. But ya know, in the end it just wasn't for me.
JN: How do you feel about all those pictures floating around of you throwing up the 'U'?
MT: I just think that that was Matthew Thomas then and now I'm gonna be throwing up the 'chop' cause now I'm Matthew Thomas the 'Nole.
JN: But based on what you are saying to me, you were throwing up the 'U' knowing that wasn't the school you were going to. What's up with that?
MT: Of course. But I've been a fan of Miami since I was little and that was like me showing my support. I still like them and watch them.
JN: What are you most looking forward to now that Signing Day is over?
MT: I'm looking forward to playing, man. I'm ready to play now.
JN: Has the FSU staff told you what they want you to do this offseason?
MT: Yeah they are sending me all the stuff down. They know I can learn fast so they're sending me the defense and the workout plan.
JN: Do you have one last message for Florida State fans?
MT: Ya'll ready? Let's go get it!