Noles247.com caught up with former NFL great Lavar Arrington who is coaching linebackers this week at Under Armour. Arrington has been working closely with five-star Matthew Thomas. Here are his thoughts on Thomas and the player he can be on the next level.
Josh Newberg: What are your initial impressions on linebacker Matthew Thomas?
Lavar Arrington: He is an athletic linebacker. He's a baby. He has a ton of upside in terms of potential, but it will be up to him if he maximizes that potential. His first step is pretty sick. If he ends up putting on some weight, I could easily see him as a pass rush end. He's gifted athletically, that's for sure.
JN: What does Thomas need to work on most to see his full potential?
LA: He just has to continue to be a student of the game. I think he's had an eye-opening experience here (Under Armour Game).
JN: What are some of the things you've been working on with him this week?
LA: Thomas' retention is good, he picks things up. He's finding out now that he has to get bigger and stronger. He's going to have to really work at understanding the game more if he wants to reach that potential of being a star on the next level.
JN: Who does Thomas remind you of? Maybe a former teammate or someone you played with at the NFL level.
LA: That's funny you ask that. He reminds me of Raynoch Thompson. That's the first name that came to mind as soon as I was around him. He has the potential to be a Raynoch Thompson type player. You can look him up, he played at Tennessee in college and the Cardinals in the NFL. He was one of the best linebackers I've ever seen.
JN: What do you see in Matthew Thomas that makes you draw that comparison to Raynoch Thompson
LA: Their builds are very similar, almost identical. They both could run very well and they have a nose for the ball. You can tell Thomas is playing a little timid out here. With a little more familiarity with this group of guys I think he'd be fine. Thomas has great potential. I feel good about him and I think he has the will to figure it all out.
Miami (Fla.) five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas comments on the coaching of Lavar Arrington
Josh Newberg: What kind of coach is Lavar Arrington?
Matthew Thomas: It's been real tough. He's a maniac, man. He stays on my butt all the time. He gets in my face and all that. I like that type of coaching. I've never had a soft coach in my life.
JN: What are some of the things he's been trying to work with you on?
MT: He tells me to work on the little things. Like staying high, keeping a strong base before the play. Things like that.
JN: Lavar Arrington likes your potential, but feels you have a lot to work on, would you agree with that?
MT: I agree with that. I have a lot to work on and have to evolve into a great player on the next level. There is talent everywhere here (Under Armour), it's the best of the best and I know there are things I need to get better at.