It finally happened.
One Tennessee commitment had been planning all season long to take a trip to Knoxville to see firsthand what a game day on Rocky Top was all about.
It may have been the Vols 10th game of the year, but Memphis Tino Thomas finally made it to his destination.
“I have been working on getting up there all fall,” Thomas told InsideTennessee.com Wednesday evening. “My dad couldn’t get off work; I almost made it a couple of times but finally made it up there this past weekend.”
Was it what Thomas expected it to be?
“It was awesome,” Thomas said about his first Rocky Top experience. “I loved the crowd, I loved the atmosphere, and the Vol Walk everything was perfect.”
Thomas was also impressed with how the young Vols played Saturday against the Ole Miss Rebels.
“They put a butt whipping on Ole Miss,” Thomas said. “I thought it would be a good game, I didn’t expect us to dominate them like that.”
According to Thomas, the Tennessee coaching staff was very pleased to see him at the game.
“I got to talk to all of the coaches,” Thomas said. “Coach Dooley told me to hurry up and go put on a uniform. He was joking of course.”
It appears that Dooley and the Vols coaches are telling Thomas that they want him to make an immediate impact on UT’s special teams.
“They have seen my film, they know I’m pretty good on kickoff and punt returns,” Thomas said. “I would love to help out in that area.”
Speaking of special teams and kickoff returns, Thomas recently took a kick off back for 50 yards and a touchdown in Melrose first round of the state playoffs.
“I had a pretty good game in the playoffs,” Thomas said. “I had 10 tackles, 2 pass break ups, 7 carries for 80 yards and a 50 yard touchdown on a kickoff return.”
Thomas likes the way Dooley and the UT coaching staff has already made him feel at home.
“They already treat me like family,” Thomas said. “They treat me with a lot of respect and are always asking me about how my life is going, on and off the field.”
Thomas’ father got the chance to make the trip with him this past Saturday and appears to have a great time.
“He was blown away by how bad UT beat Ole Miss,” Thomas said. “He really enjoyed the game; he couldn’t believe how many people were there in all Orange.”
According to Thomas he is solid on his commitment to the Vols and doesn’t plan on taking any other visits. He will not enroll early, but will graduate in May before joining his new family in Knoxville in June.