Georgia Tech linebacker Charlie Thomas is a tackling machine. In 56 games, Thomas recorded 312 tackles, 37 tackles for a loss, ten sacks, seven forced fumbles, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions. In his fifth year senior year, he recorded an impressive stat line of 112 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, four pass breakups, and two interceptions. His great senior season led to him receiving an invite to the East-West Shrine Bowl. At the Shrine Bowl, I got the chance to interview him for Steelers Depot.
Thomas describes his game as “instinctive” and it is a big reason why he has recorded the stats he has over his career.
“I watch a lot of film and I’ve been around football so long,” Thomas told Steelers Depot. “I play a lot of Madden, like all that contributed together: instincts.”
What has also helped Thomas with his instincts is that he has played football since he was six years old. But, when you play football for a long time adversity eventually comes. Thomas’ adversity came at Georgia Tech where he initially came in as a safety but the team staff decided to move him to linebacker.
“I came in as a safety thinking I was going to play safety, but then I never really got the opportunity to play safety. I just bought in to playing linebacker and then I guess it worked out for the best.”
That ended up working out for the best, as Thomas was able to learn the inside out about the linebacker position and add that to his repertoire which already included being able to play well in coverage. Thomas specifically mentioned the technique part that was a challenge to learn.
“I mean for the most part, as far as just knowing where to go and when to go to places, that part was easy. The scheme part was easy, but like technique part, using my hands and disengaging from blocks and stuff like that, it was definitely a change I had to be used to.”
The change worked out. With his great stats his final season, Thomas was named to the Second Team All-ACC. From coming in as a freshman defensive back who got told he needed to change to linebacker, Thomas said his five years at Georgia Tech were a learning experience.
“It was a learning experience for sure. Like how to deal with people. I started becoming a better version of myself, like how to be accountable, how to function in real life.”
Being a former defensive backs turned linebacker, one of Thomas’ strengths is his athleticism and coverage ability. This is something that could be appealing to the Steelers as they currently don’t have any linebackers who are really strong in the coverage department. Thomas also said that Pittsburgh would be one of the top places he would want to place because of who is already there.
“Because like Mike Tomlin, Minkah [Fitzpatrick], they got Terrell [Edmunds]. They got a lot of guys that I know I can learn from and then just like elevate with them.”
Thomas also said that Fitzpatrick is one of his idols, saying when he first got to college that is who he wanted to be like and he tries to take some of what he sees from Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, and Jalen Ramsey and add it to his game.
“Minkah’s one of my favorite players for real. That’s who, when I first got to college, that’s who I wanted to be. I tried to take stuff out their toolbox and then like put it in mind and then master it.”
As a linebacker, Thomas says he tries to take stuff from Fred Warner, Devin Bush, and Patrick Queen and add it to his game. All fast athletic linebackers, Thomas wants to be able to be a three down linebacker who excels in all positions.
After a good week here at the Shrine Bowl, it will be interesting to see the interest Pittsburgh has in him. He fits a need the Steelers need in linebacker, and he even got some reps at special teams here in Las Vegas so he will certainly be someone who can help out in case special teamers like safety-turned-linebacker Marcus Allen leave in free agency. As the draft approaches, he will definitely be a name to keep an eye on.