6-foot-8, 325-lb Tackle with 17 Power-5 offers tells ESPN960 why BYU is one of his top schools

Rocky Mountain's Ethan Thomason drops back in pass protection in a game against Fossil Ridge on Oct. 22, 2021. (Photo Courtesy of the Fort Collins Coloradoan)

by Nathan Farmer | @nlfarmer1

When all is said and done, the weekend of June 3 through 5 could go down as one of the most important recruiting weekends of the Kalani Sitake era. In a calculated move on BYU’s part, the Cougars hosted four highly-touted recruits on campus for their official visits.

Hunter Clegg of American Fork, Jackson Bowers of Mountain View (AZ), Walker Lyons of Folsom (CA), and Ethan Thomason of Rocky Mountain (CO) all made the trek to Provo for their official visits last weekend. Clegg, Bowers, and Lyons are all consensus four-star recruits, while Thomason is a high three-star looking to make the jump into four-star territory this season.

Thomason sat down with Ben Criddle on ESPN 960 to discuss his official visit, his goals for his senior season of high school, and how he came to be the football player he is today.

“As a kid, I didn’t love football, I didn’t like hurting people,” said Thomason. “Growing up, I thought I was gonna be a big-time basketball player. In middle school, I did football, basketball, and wrestling. I really loved wrestling. It helped me get some of that mental toughness and aggression, and that’s when my football career started taking off.”

Getting Clegg, Bowers, Lyons, and Thomason on campus at the same time was certainly a premeditated move, allowing these top recruits to get to know each other and talk about their potential futures together as teammates. Thomason pointed to those interactions and being able to meet current players and coaches as the highlight of his trip.

“What really stood out to me on my official visit, the group of guys I was with were all great guys, and those are all the types of guys you get at BYU. My host, Brayden Keim, was really cool. The main thing that stood out to me was the relationships. Harris LaChance, Coach Sitake, and Coach Funk, talking to all the coaches and being able to make good relationships there. I really enjoyed spending time with the other recruits and talking about their thought process going [through their recruitment].”

Thomason understands the hype around this recruiting class and believes he and the other three prospects would be big-time commits regardless of where they decide to play.

“I was watching all their film, and they’re great players, but they’re also great people. We were all talking and said we all love it there [at BYU]. Fans should be excited about all of them. Even if two of us end up coming it’d be a big win because they’re all great players.”

Thomason was born in Texas but has lived in Colorado since he was a few months old. His first collegiate offer came from his hometown team, the Colorado State Rams, during his sophomore season, but the BYU offer was one he had been looking forward to for a long time. BYU was one of roughly a dozen teams that offered him the summer after his sophomore year.

“That was really important for me, I was really excited about that one. Growing up, I was a hometown guy, so I was into Colorado State, but I was also a BYU guy with the church connection.”

Thomason’s strengths reside in his run blocking, but he’s looking to improve on his pass protection and agility as he preps for the 2022 season.

“I love run blocking and I’m really aggressive. I’m getting good at pass protection. My length is a big advantage, especially against speed rushers. I’m really working on being able to bend and move, as well as my explosiveness.”

When you’re one of the top offensive lineman recruits in the nation, you’re going to garner significant national attention, and that’s exactly what Thomason has done. Thomason has a long list of offers from schools all over the nation, from Stanford and Washington State on the west coast to Virginia and Vanderbilt on the east coast. Thomason posted his top eight schools a few weeks ago, with BYU, Utah, Stanford, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Vanderbilt all making the cut. He explained the criteria that went into determining his top eight schools.

“I whittled it down based on their program and how the coaches had been recruiting. It’s really based on relationships I had with coaches, academics, strength and conditioning of the coaches getting guys into the NFL, and the cultures of each program.”

Thomason has three of his five allotted official visits planned out, including his visit to BYU last week. Thomason is visiting Salt Lake City this weekend to meet with Kyle Whittingham and the Utes, and he’ll be heading out to the Bay Area later this month to visit David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal. Thomason doesn’t anticipate making an announcement regarding his commitment until this fall.

Following his senior season of high school, Thomason plans on graduating early and entering the mission field next spring. After college and a potential professional career, Thomason wants to enter the field of business entrepreneurship and start his own training facility where he can train offensive linemen and football players in general.

Social media was already abuzz among BYU fans following updates from these recruits’ official visits, but a certain photoshoot with a stuffed Cougar up in Rock Canyon went viral in BYU and Utah circles. Many fans thought it was a weird look, but Thomason and the other recruits thought it was great.

“I loved it. It was actually fun seeing the Twitter action that picked up among both BYU and Utah fans. I thought it was sick.”

While the jury is still out on whether the stuffed cougar was cool or not, there’s no mistaking this was a massive recruiting weekend for BYU football as Coach Sitake goes about his first full recruiting cycle as a member of the Big 12. Only time will tell, but Cougar fans should get used to these big recruiting weekends as BYU moves into the Big 12 for the 2023 season. These high-profile recruiting visits are going to become the norm in the coming years.

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