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Player Focus: LB Charlie Thomas

The sophomore linebacker was a bright spot on Saturday in an otherwise ugly loss

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Temple Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tough to find many positives in Georgia Tech’s 24-2 loss to the Temple Owls, but if there is anything to be hopeful about, it’s that the defense isn’t playing too bad. The Jackets held Temple to 322 yards of offense on Saturday, which is more than 100 yards fewer than the Owls’ season average. Tech’s defense has forced a respectable seven turnovers in its first four games this season, and they currently rank 68th in the nation in yards allowed per game (much better than the offense, which is ranked 127th in yards per game). One of the key players on the defensive side of the ball has been sophomore linebacker Charlie Thomas.

Thomas came to the Flats in 2018 as a 3-star recruit out of Thomasville, GA and immediately climbed to the top of the depth chart, starting six games at linebacker as a true freshman. He made the most of his playing time, picking up a sack, three tackles for loss, and three fumble recoveries in his first season. This year he’s made an even bigger impact; his 28 total tackles ranks second highest on the team, and his two sacks and two forced fumbles lead all Jackets defenders.

One of his best plays so far this season came on Georgia Tech’s only scoring play of the Temple game when he shot through the Owls’ offensive line and nailed the running back in the endzone, leading to a safety. Showcasing a combination of instincts and athleticism, you can see Thomas start to creep up towards the line and then explode through his gap on the snap. The offensive lineman trying to block him never had a chance, and Thomas is able to hit the ball carrier in the endzone before Antwan Owens finishes the play.

It’s extremely impressive for Thomas to be making plays like this as a true sophomore, and there’s no doubt that he’ll be a leader on defense for the next few years. While the Jackets as a team have a ton of room for improvement, the defense seems to be a little further along thanks in part to playmakers like Thomas. It will be crucial for him and his fellow defenders to continue making impact plays and limiting opponents’ offensive production if Georgia Tech is going to have any hope of winning more games this season.