Thomas Oser, a 6-foot-5 280-pound OL target out of Harvard-Westlake HS in California, has a big decision facing him. With a number of quality programs vying for his services, this multi-talented offensive line prospect has a choice to make.
Big East? Pac-12? SEC? Some of the nation's best programs and conferences have targeted Oser, who has accumulated 10 scholarship offers total, giving the Utes plenty of solid competition when it comes to this particular target.
"I have 10 offers right now including Utah, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, San Diego State, Washington State, Colorado, and New Mexico State. Recruiting is going really well, I went on the camp circuit so I've been around and have seen some schools already. I feel like the schools that are really recruiting me the hardest right now are Vanderbilt, my quarterback Chad Kanoff just committed there a couple of months ago so they've been taking a look at me; Oregon, I went up to their camp in July so I've been in contact with them a lot since; and Stanford."
Oser received his offer from the Utes in early June just as his summer camp travels started to pick up. Because of his busy summer schedule he has had a difficult time really connecting with the Utah coaches but says Coach Johnson and Finn are a priority for him over the next few days.
"No, I have not been able to get out to Utah yet. Once I got back to LA [from the camp circuit] football started right away and so I've been in practice since early July and have been practicing all the way through. Our season starts early this year, I think our first game is on August 23rd so we're going hard at it right now and it's been hard trying to make travel plans because of that. I'm going to be giving a call to a bunch of coaches today including Coach Johnson and hopefully get on the phone with Coach Finn the O-line coach there and talk about where I fit in."
Oser is an athletic big-man who has excellent footwork and agility. He spent much of his youth playing lacrosse and believes the strengths he has as a football player today were developed during those early years. The results have been noticed by other coaches and are one of the reasons why Oser is such a hot prospect. Not only do these skills help with his technique, they also make him a more flexible player able to play multiple positions on the line.
"A lot of the coaches say the best thing about me is that I'm an athlete. I've been playing lacrosse since about 5th grade, a little longer than I've been playing football actually, so I think that has really helped me with my footwork and agility and it's given me an advantage over the other linemen who maybe aren't as fast or quick on their feet."
"I'm open to any position on the offensive line. My original position was tackle through middle school up until last year. Then last season I switched to center and now I'm moving back to tackle for my senior season here. From what I'm hearing from the coaches I'm an inside guy that could play tackle if needed but I've practiced a lot at center and tackle and so it really just depends on where I'm needed."
With so many quality programs fighting for Oser he knows he has a lot to consider. He's had an opportunity to visit some of the schools that he holds offers from and is looking to schedule more visits as his senior year progresses. The difficulty he says will come in trying to manage his time while trying to balance having a solid senior year with prepping for his future. To help make his decision easier he keeps a list of questions ready for conversations with coaches and a number of things to look for when visiting a new campus.
"When I talk to the coaches typically I want to know where I'll fit in in the program, where they think I'll play. I also want to know more about how the athletes interact with the school itself and how they manage their time and how their day to day lives are there on campus. I also want to get to know the coaches a little more and find out who they are."
"I'm looking for a school where I can get playing time, where there are good academics, but the biggest thing to me is the people. I'm going to be spending 4 or 5 years of my life with these people and I want to make sure they're the right people. I want to be around people who are excited to be there, excited to work, excited to play, excited about football. I want to make sure that these are the best years of my life and that I'm making the most of them with people who are going to help me improve myself as a player, as a person, and overall."
When it comes to Utah Oser admits he doesn't know a lot about the program. Other than the fact that the school is located in Salt Lake City he says he only has what he's heard from the coaches to go on at this point. He plans on changing this, however, and says an official visit to the campus could be in his future.
"I know that it's a good program. They've got connections everywhere, it's almost strange. I was at a museum here in California recently on a Sunday and I was just sitting on a bench when a guy started talking to me and I found out that he is really good friends with one of the coaches on the staff and it was interesting to me that they're well known outside of the state of Utah. I haven't talked to the coaches much over the past few weeks but I'm planning on speaking with the coaches a lot in the coming days to learn a lot more. I haven't thought yet about taking an official to Utah, but I'm going to get on the phone with Coach Johnson today and talk more about that and then we'll see."
With Utah and the rest of the schools even at this point the Utah coaches have plenty of time to make an impact on Oser. Though he doesn't plan on waiting until signing day to make his decision, he says he isn't in a rush either. When it comes down to it he plans on discussing his options with all of the schools and then choosing the school that feels right to him.
"I'd say Utah is even with everybody at this point. I don't think I want to wait until signing day to decide, I feel like that's a long way away. I think in the coming months I'll be able to narrow my options down and hopefully make a decision after I've talked with all of the coaches. I'm not afraid to make a decision sooner rather than later but I also want to make sure I've explored my choices and that I make the best decision for me."
FOX Sports NEXT caught up with North Hollywood (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake offensive lineman Thomas…