When Michael Thomas lines up at cornerback he looks more like a linebacker or a safety.
Thomas' height, 6-foot, doesn't look abnormal but his weight, 216 pounds, makes it look like he's out of position. His highlight tape is filled with big hits that have earned him the nickname “Taser” by the Lawton MacArthur coaching staff.
“He's an unbelievable tackler,” Lawton Mac head coach Brett Manning said. “We started calling him “Taser” last year because when he got his hands on somebody they dropped like they had been tased. They didn't fall forward, they didn't spin off. When he got his hands on them they were dropping right where they were.”
Last season was Thomas' first year at Lawton. A military kid, he has lived in Louisiana, Arizona and Jacksonville, Fla., before moving to Fort Sill last summer.
Thomas, No. 11 on the Oklahoman's Super 30 list, arrived at Lawton at the perfect time with the Highlanders in need of a corner heading into last season.
His father, Michael McGruder, is in the Army and serves as a chaplain on the military base seven miles outside of Lawton.
But Thomas didn't get the physical play that has earned him an offer from Tulsa and interest from several Big 12 schools from his father.
“It's pretty much the coaches in Florida. They say run hard hit hard,” Thomas said. “It's the only way I know how to play now.”
Thomas did plenty of hitting and running last season, collecting 61 tackles, three interceptions, three pass breakups, one sack and two defensive touchdowns.
Thomas committed to Tulsa in April and will play safety when he steps on campus, but with his size he could shift to outside linebacker.
“The way he's developing and growing, playing linebacker in college is not out of the question,” Manning said. “He's got the mentality of a linebacker but he's playing corner.
“He can do anything they're going to want him to do. Texas A&M really liked him as a possible outside linebacker.”
Thomas' versatility, size, and 4.59 speed has given Manning the idea to utilize different defensive schemes to put his talents on display.
“We might be able to shift the safeties over and leave him on one side of the field by himself because he can handle that kind of stuff both in the pass coverage and run support.”
For Thomas' final season he wants to walk away from Lawton Mac with a 5A state championship after reaching the state semifinal last year.
“We're going to do whatever it takes to get to that state title,” Thomas said. “I'm going to be a leader this year. I'm a senior and this is my last year. I'm trying to get a ring. I'm trying to get a championship for this school.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30: No. 11
School: Lawton MacArthur
Offers: Verbal Commitment to Tulsa; received interest from Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State