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Wednesday, February 5, 2014
West Virginia lands RB Thomas-Williams

By Damon Sayles and Tom Luginbill

Donte Thomas-Williams (Durham, N.C./Hillside) was expected to choose West Virginia on Wednesday, and the ESPN 300 running back didn't disappoint the Mountaineers.

Thomas-Williams becomes the program’s 22nd commit and the fifth ESPN 300 member of the class. The 6-foot, 217-pound running back chose West Virginia over Vanderbilt, North Carolina State and Florida State, among others.

Donte Thomas-Williams
West Virginia beat out several top schools for ESPN 300 running back Donte Thomas-Williams.
What he brings: Thomas-Williams brings a load-back body structure and downhill skill set. He had the wide base and lower leg strength and power to earn quality yards after contact at the high school level. He has shown good agility throughout his career for a bigger back, and has deceptive explosiveness when he breaks out into the second level. His best asset is still his ability to shoulder the load and wear defenses down with his strength.

Who he reminds us of: UCF RB Storm Johnson. As Johnson was in 2010, Thomas-Williams is a college-ready back with great size and power. While alike in their wide base and running stature at the high school stage, there are also similarities in their shake and deceptive second-level speed for 210-pound-plus backs.

Potential freshman impact: To make an immediate impact in the next stage, Thomas-Williams needs to get back to the quicker and more explosive back we witnessed when he was a junior. We believe he is physically ready to contribute as a downhill runner and as a blocker, but perhaps not quite ready for an every-down role at this time.

How he fits: Coach Dana Holgorsen wanted a running back, as the 2014 class did not have one entering Wednesday. Thomas-Williams not only gives the Mountaineers a power back but also one who can switch things up with his speed and elusiveness. For West Virginia, Thomas-Williams’ decision also shows that it can still win recruiting battles against some of the elite programs. Florida State once was a major contender.