Octavius Thomas’ numbers were ridiculous.
As a senior, the Myrtle Beach linebacker had 187 total tackles to lead the area for the second time in three years. There were also 29 tackles for loss, nine sacks and eight forced fumbles.
He was a shoo-in for the North-South All-Star Football game, which will be played Saturday at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium. The problem for Thomas, though, is that the love from college coaches hasn’t followed.
Entering Saturday’s game, the kid with the huge defensive tally is still falling short in one category.
Specifically, at 5-foot-9, the tale of the tape is still holding him back. It’s scaring away college coaches.
“I think in this day and age, the way recruiting is, everybody is very accessible,” Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said. “You can go online and clips of him will pop up on YouTube. These coaches see that, and they see how short he is, and they back away.
“They’re quick to turn and go in another direction.”
Wilson compared Thomas to former Seahawk and current Virginia Tech linebacker Bruce Taylor. The link makes sense. Taylor finished his senior season with 188 tackles and 29 for loss, and he was also named to one of the state’s two all-star games.
The difference is height; Taylor was already pushing 6-foot-2 when he graduated high school.
Thomas, who has drawn some interest from NCAA Division-II Newberry, is doing his best to be patient.
“I know for sure I can play with anybody I step on the field with. There’s no question about it,” he said. “That doesn’t matter. ... It’s all in God’s hands. Wherever He wants me to go, I’ll go. I’m just asking for one chance.”
Like many of the other 88 or so players in Saturday’s North-South game, he’s hoping playing against some of the state’s best will be one of his best shots to prove himself to recruiters.
It will also be an opportunity for a better ending to his high school career. Myrtle Beach fell to Hanahan in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs. It was the quickest postseason exit during his time at the school – a period that included the 2010 state title.
It’s another reason he has no intention of approaching this game like an exhibition.
The lack of college interest has him thinking about how much longer football will be there. He said he’ll attempt to walk on somewhere if a viable scholarship offer never comes. But he already knows, offer or not, there’s little guaranteed.
“I would walk on and prove myself all over again,” Thomas said. “That’s not a problem to me. It’s more fun when people tell you that you can’t do something and then you do it.
“When the day comes that I have to hang up my equipment, I’m probably going to cry. I don’t know when it’s going to be my last play.”
Georgetown football coaches and administrators had believed this year was the first time two Bulldogs had been selected for North-South honors.
Offensive lineman Dillon Alford and defensive end Anthony Blair will suit up for the South squad Saturday.
However, it’s actually the second time the school has doubled up representation in the same season.
Alert reader Johnny Mau, a former Georgetown player, pointed The Sun News toward 1987. That year, Bobby Pressley and Gareth Bonds were each selected for the North-South team. The two seniors, according to a Charleston News & Courier/Evening Post story from that year, even combined on a tackle on North starting quarterback Archie Irby that injured Irby and sent him out of the game.