Charles Thomas, Ex-Wolverine

Charles Thomas, Ex-Wolverine

October 19, 2020
Charles Thomas

Redshirt freshman linebacker Charles Thomas has entered the transfer portal. Thomas committed to Michigan in June of 2017 as a part of the class of 2019 (LINK). Despite some early optimism, I gave him a TTB Rating of 69 largely because he just can’t run very well (LINK).

Hit the jump for more on Thomas’s departure.

As for his place on the depth chart, I heard nothing about him during the 2019 season. Then I heard some bits this spring about the coaching staff liking his physicality. And then as the summer/fall progressed, I went back to hearing nothing.

Let me also just throw out a reminder that Thomas attended three high schools: Langston Hughes in Georgia, IMG Academy in Florida, and St. Thomas More in Connecticut. I can understand transferring to IMG Academy because of the experience of playing in those facilities, playing their competition, getting that level of coaching, getting to play on ESPN, etc. But if you’re a high schooler who plays at three or more high schools, I have a hard time believing you will start and finish your college career at Michigan.

While I did not expect much from Thomas, this departure thins out a group already lacking depth and experience. Aside from the presumed starting linebacker trio of redshirt junior Josh Ross, redshirt sophomore Cameron McGrone, and redshirt sophomore Michael Barrett, the position has just sophomore Anthony Solomon, redshirt freshman Joey Velazquez, true freshman, and walk-ons. I can’t remember a time off the top of my head where there were so few players in their fourth or fifth year at linebacker, a spot where experience and strength are highly valued. Thomas himself was only a redshirt freshman, but the overall lack of numbers is a little concerning.

In the past ten months, Michigan has lost Jordan Anthony (transfer), Devin Gil (transfer), Jordan Glasgow (NFL), Khaleke Hudson (NFL), Osman Savage (transfer), and now Thomas (transfer) from the linebacker group alone. I do not think this is a sign of trouble within the program. It just seems to be a series of unfortunate coincidences. Anthony in particular seems to be the biggest loss, because he would presumably be the #3 inside linebacker in 2020, behind Ross and McGrone.

Here’s a breakdown of the 2021 scholarship count without Thomas (LINK).


  1. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Oct 19, 2020 at 2:24 PM

    The high turnover at LB isn’t that surprising given how many Michigan has been taking. It has reminded me of the approach used at RB for a long time. When you take that many guys for that few spots, people are going to be unhappy. And in this era of enhanced mobility that means transfers.

    While it seems clear there will be a big step down if McGrone or Ross are hurt I’m not too concerned with overall depth at LB as it seems Barrett could slide to WLB and Ross can play either spot. I think Solomon is essentially the next man into the starting lineup if any of the 3 starters goes down. After that it’s true freshman and walkons, so it does get scary if multiple injuries strike.

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 19, 2020 at 2:38 PM

      I think one big difference is that, yes, there are some good young linebackers, but usually you want some experience there. It’s not unusual for third- or fourth- or fifth-year guys to emerge there, which has happened with Glasgow, Gedeon, and McCray in recent years, among others. At running back, age seems to matter less. I don’t love freshman running backs, but you usually see who’s “got it” by year two.

      I’m not too worried if your RB room is full of redshirt sophomores or younger. But if your LB room is full of that same demographic, I get a little nervous.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Oct 19, 2020 at 3:19 PM

        I agree about RB – its’ mostly plug and play aside from blocking and ball security sometimes.

        At LB putting a freshman in as a starter is probably asking for trouble but we’ve seen a lot of underclassmen start and do well by their sophomore year. McGrone, Ross, Bush, Bolden, Morgan all stepping up in big roles while young. And if you want to loop in the vipers like Peppers and Hudson the pool gets bigger.

        I think some guys like Gedeon had to wait mostly because there were really good vets ahead of them. Hoke hit the position hard in recruiting. Gedeon probably would have been fine if needed. McCray’s injury and Glasgows background make them kind of special cases in my mind.

        I guess I’m thinking a year should generally be sufficient for a LB stepping in if an injury strikes. I wouldn’t be too stressed if a sophomore like Solomon gets playing time. And we’ve yet to see a transferring LB be missed. Drew Singleton seems to be doing fine for Rutgers but he’s clearly not as good as Ross or McGrone and I’d be pretty surprised if it played out any differently for Thomas or Anthony.

        I think LB is more like RB than a position like safety or QB that requires more knowledge and experience. It’s also unlike OL and DL that require more physical development and technique that can take years to develop. I think it’s most like CB, WR, or edge where your head might be swimming if you’re asked to do too much as a freshman but maybe you can execute in limited specific role. Cover man to man, go deep, go get the QB, fill your gap and then go tackle somebody.

        I get the sense our coaches generally know if you have what it takes or don’t by sophomore year. That doesn’t mean you’re fully cooked just that they know if you’re going to eventually be a Dude or not. Something that you can gameplan around if you need to.

        It’s weird times I know but to leave right now just seems funky. I’m seeing Thomas’ departure as an endorsement of Solomon and the freshman. Maybe maize colored glasses…

  2. Comments: 14
    Joined: 4/11/2017
    Oct 19, 2020 at 4:20 PM

    Did we ever find out where Jordan Anthony transferred to? I may have missed it. I wonder if he hasn’t transferred, if he’s allowed back. Probably wishful thinking.

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 19, 2020 at 8:17 PM

      AFAIK, he hasn’t transferred anywhere. I believe (though I’m not sure) that he’s still taking classes at Michigan. He might end up like Da’Mario Jones, who said he was going to transfer and then . . . just finished out his education at Michigan and never played another down of football.

  3. Comments: 134
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    Oct 19, 2020 at 9:22 PM

    I thought Anthony went to Rutgers….but maybe I am thinking of someone else.

    I understand the desire to be a starter somewhere else and considering how many youth baseball players I have seen bounce from team to team I guess I am not shocked when backups leave looking for greener grass.

    But to me it just seems so short sighted. A guy like Anthony or Gill is going to play a ton on special teams and has a good chance at meaningful plays given the depth. How many position groups survive a season unscathed? How often has Michigan’s coaching staff shown they will reward effort and hard work at LB?

    I feel the same about Mccaffrey.

    Those who stay…..will at least get snaps and a good education. And every week I read your Ex-Wolverine updates and it isn’t like most of them are getting a ton of PT elsewhere.

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 19, 2020 at 9:23 PM

      You might be thinking of Drew Singleton, who went to Rutgers.

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Oct 20, 2020 at 11:24 AM

      It would have been nice to have Woods and Sims on this roster though. Not saying they’re NFL guys but experience can trump talent sometimes. On the back end of the playing rotation it could help, especially in a year with a lot of health concerns.

      They made reasonable decisions for them and got starting spots out of it but it turns out they would have probably played a lot of downs at Michigan too.

      • Comments: 134
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        Oct 21, 2020 at 10:17 PM

        Don’t forget Ben St. Justice as well. That is one of the weirder situations in recent memory. I wonder what his medical issue was….given that he’s now a solid starter for a rival and would look great starting across from Gray this year.

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