September 13, 2010

FNL: Thomas Rawls

ChippewaCountry was on hand for the Mount Pleasant vs. Flint Northern game this past Friday, and it featured several Central Michigan prospects. The main one? Flint Northern running back Thomas Rawls who looked to lead his team to their first victory of the season against a talented Oilers squad.

But it was not to be.

Rawls would answer a early Mt. Pleasant touchdown with a score of his own, but with the score 7-6 after a Flint Northern failed two point conversion, the Oilers would run away with the game. Rawls and his team would fall to 0-3 overall after the final horn sounded and the scoreboard read 47-12 in favor of Mt. Pleasant.

"Well…we came into the game and we knew they were a real good team and they had a lot of talent," said Rawls. We had a great week of practice and I thought we were ready for the game, but before kickoff I found out that two of my starting lineman had to miss the first quarter because of unexcused absences. Once the game started, they scored first and then I was able to answer with a long run, and I thought we were going to be able to stay with them, but we kept making mistakes and things just didn't go our way."

Sitting at 0-3, Flint Northern is off to a disappointing start, but Rawls remains optimistic about his team and continues to provide leadership. He would finish the Mt. Pleasant game with 94 yards rushing on 14 carries and also saw time as a receiver and linebacker.

"We lost three games, but we've played some real tough teams. But I think we're right where we need to be, and some guys need to step up and say this is enough. I'm just going to keep being a leader and try and lead guys, but we definitely have motivation now."

While his senior season is not going as planned, the recruiting side of things continue to pick up for him. Recently he was able to take a trip to Ann Arbor and witness Michigan's victory Connecticut.

"Yeah, I went to the Uconn game," said Rawls. "I was talking to coach Fred Jackson, we ate before the game, and then Coach Rodriguez introduced us to the coaching staff and talked to us about the program," said Rawls. "It was a really good experience, and there were so many people there. It was one of the biggest stages in college football and it really impressed me."

While the Wolverines have yet to offer Rawls, one could be on the way soon. But even if Michigan was to offer, Rawls would keep things in perspective and look for the best school for him.

"We've been talking a lot," said Rawls on the possibility of UM offering. "I still need to sign up for the ACT again, and I think that's what they're waiting on. They do like me and if they offer, it would be another offer. But Central Michigan was the first school to offer me, and even though Michigan is a bigger program, that really doesn't phase me. If they did offer me, it would be big because it's a Michigan offer, I mean the University of Michigan offered me, but I don't get caught up in all that and I still need to look at the place that is right for me."

Another school who has been showing a lot of interest is Cincinnati, and the Bearcats are the other offer outside of Central Michigan. However, Cincinnati recently received a commitment from three star running back Malcolm Crockett, although Rawls seems to be un-phased by the Bearcats recent addition.

"Yeah, I know they signed a back, but I talk to Coach Stripling a lot," added Rawls. "But they don't really want me to commit to anyone, even them, until I go down there and visit with the coaches and see the program. So I really want to make a trip down there and just see what they have to offer and everything, but nothing is set up yet."

While it appears Michigan has now entered the picture and Cincinnati continues to actively recruit him, one program has placed Rawls as a priority above the rest, and that is Central Michigan. The Chippewas are looking to add a big physical back, and Rawls fits the description perfectly. He has been on campus numerous times and seen the program up close, but it's becoming very apparent that the CMU coaching staff are not the only one's who want Rawls in the maroon and gold.

"Alex Niznak actually called me the other day and wanted to know if I wanted to head down to CMU's morning practice session," laughed Rawls. "Niz, that's my man. I didn't have a ride so I asked him in Flint was on the way from where he was coming from, but it wasn't and I couldn't make it to practice."

With schools from all over the Midwest after him, and coaches (and quarterbacks) all looking to add him to their recruiting class, Rawls dished out a list of his top four teams.

"Oh man, in no order I would say Central Michigan, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Iowa."


* Mount Pleasant's Tyler Lemke played guard and some defensive tackle for the Oilers in this gaming, and he has been hearing from a bunch of D-II schools. At this point, it looks as though Lemke is a walk-on option at CMU, but not a scholarship type player.

* Mount Pleasant also features CMU walk-on and current backup TE Connor Odykirk's brother, Coltin. The younger Odykirk is currently a junior and caught 3 passes for 71 yards and 1 touchdown in the game. He looks the part of a future college prospect.

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