In Luke Fickell’s first full season as head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, he and his staff put together one of the best recruiting classes the program had seen in years. Although he was hired in December of 2016 and put the finishing touches on the 2017 recruiting class, the 2018 class was the first one that was fully his. That 2018 class was ranked No. 1 in the American Athletic Conference by 247Sports and featured players with four-star pedigrees like tight end Leonard Taylor and defensive end Malik Vann. The 2019 class has plenty of talent as well, but as the No. 7 class in the conference according to 247Sports, it was a bit of a step back from 2018. However, Fickell and company have bounced back in a major way with the 2020 class, which was already heralded among teams in the AAC and the nation alike but has gotten even better with a commitment from Jaheim Thomas.
Princeton’s Jaheim Thomas verbals to Cincinnati. Big get at LB for Bearcats #cincyfb— Scott Springer (@sspringersports) July 20, 2019
Thomas joins Taylor and Vann as recruits with four-star designations to choose the Bearcats under Fickell’s watch. In addition, by adding Thomas, the Bearcats are also ensuring that the program keeps a local player around. Thomas is a linebacker from Cincinnati itself, as he plays for Princeton High School and is considered among the top five recruits in the state of Ohio by both 247Sports and Rivals. On top of that, Thomas’ commitment is a major recruiting win because of the type of programs the future Bearcat was choosing between. With offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and a host of others, Thomas had plenty of options but in choosing the Bearcats, he has not only given them a boost in the talent department but in the area of recruiting success.
Prior to today’s news, the Bearcats were doing just fine in terms of recruiting, with a 2020 class that was among the top 60 in the country and fighting for the top spot in the AAC. Thomas’ commitment will undoubtedly push them even higher. Thomas also makes the future at linebacker that much more promising as he will join recent commit Daved Jones on that part of the depth chart.
Thomas will be joining the program at a time when it will need some new linebackers as well. This year’s group will rely on senior Perry Young and graduate student Bryan Wright along with junior Jarell White. Once Thomas gets to campus, White will still be around but some new players will have to step up. Thomas could easily be one of those contributors even as a freshman.
As we get closer and closer to the 2019 season, the hype surrounding Bearcats football continues to intensify. However, it is with recruiting work similar to what they have displayed this spring and summer that will keep the hype on an upward trajectory for 2020 and beyond.