Johnson City Press Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sports High schools

Cyclones' Thomas doesn't think surgery will slow him down

July 18th, 2014 9:35 pm by Douglas Fritz

Cyclones' Thomas doesn't think surgery will slow him down

It’s a give-and-take game that’s part of the college football recruiting business, and Elizabethton’s Ethan Thomas got a little bite on the take side.

The Cyclones’ standout senior running back underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee recently, but should be ready to return to practice Monday.

“They kind of went in there and cleaned it out,” said Cyclones’ head football coach Shawn Witten. “He missed the 7-on-7 stuff, but he wasn’t going to do a lot of that anyway.”

Thomas, who has rushed for over 4,300 yards and 44 touchdowns in his career, tweaked the knee while working out for college scouts at a Georgia Tech camp. It’s the kind of trade-off football players have to go through in order to get serious notice.

“It’s one of those situations where coaches want to see for themselves,” said Witten. “And the kids will do anything. They go so hard. Ethan just made a cut and aggravated the knee.”

The timing of Thomas’ arthroscopic procedure, which he also had last summer, wasn’t all that bad. But as the day gets closer to August, recruiting camp injuries can become more problematic.

“It gets tough when you get into July,” said Witten. “It can impact your season. Terrence Turner got hurt on July 28 a couple years ago. He pulled his hamstring, and it took him until Week 4 of the season before he was 100 percent healthy.

“As a coach you understand what the kids have to do, but you don’t want anything to happen.”

Witten said he expects Thomas, a 6-1, 215-pound senior, to be full speed ahead before the season starts. And another good season for Thomas could land him a scholarship to a top-notch college program.

“I think another good year for the Cyclones, and another season with him being productive will help,” said Witten. “He’s definitely on the recruiting radar.

“A lot of Southern Conference and (Ohio Valley Conference) schools are looking at him. He has been to Middle Tennessee State, Appalachian State twice, and Knoxville. He’s been a lot of places.”

Witten said Thomas just needs to find a program that fits his running style.

“For him it’s all about getting in the right system, a team that runs the football,” said Witten. “With his size and strength, he’s very determined. He has a lot of characteristics you need to play at (a high Division I) level.”

Witten mentioned schools like Furman and Wofford as places where Thomas could be involved in the playing-time mix in a major way as a true freshman.

High school football season is edging closer. Teams can begin regular practice on July 28.

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