Terps see Prep's Thomas as 'a program changer'

St. John's Prep running back Johnathan Thomas gave a verbal commitment to the University of Maryland this afternoon, giving the Terrapins their first four-star commitment for their 2014 recruiting class.

The commitment comes nearly a month after visiting the College Park, Md. campus for the Terrapins' annual spring football game. That was his second visit to the school; he previously visited in January.

Two weeks ago, in an interview with ESPNBoston.com, Thomas talked of recent interest from Arkansas, who had offered after watching him work out, as well as the aggression from Boston College's coaching staff. He expressed hesitance at issuing an early commitment, saying "Sometimes it can be overwhelming, because they really pressure you to commit right away. And if you're not ready to commit...it's still early, I do want to commit before the season, but if I’m not positive about something, I don’t want to commit because once you commit at the Prep, it’s a done deal. There’s no de-committing."

Thomas said he made up his mind last night after talking with his parents, before issuing a commitment to head coach Randy Edsall this afternoon. He spoke to ESPNBoston.com soon after his commitment for some additional comments:

Why committing now was the right decision: "Because I felt comfortable with the decision, my family feels comfortable with the decision, and it’s a great place for me to be. It's not too far from home. It’s a place I want to be. They're going into the Big Ten my freshman year, they have great academics, a great coaching staff and I feel like family there."

On his spring game visit: "It was a great time. I got to spend the night with some players. The way they were [behaving] over there, it was like they are all brothers. It just felt special there."

What appealed about Maryland, over his other suitors: "First of all, I think the location makes it special. Maryland is near D.C., it's nine miles away from D.C. It's right next to Virginia, I have an aunt who lives 15 minutes away from Maryland. I have family in New York, Philadelpha...it's right in between Virginia and Philadelphia. I'm familiar with the surrounding area."

What role the Terrapins envision for him: "They envision me being a program changer. They're taking that big step moving into the Big Ten in 2014, and that’s what they said they see in me. And they’re truthful about what...They said the best player is going to play, so I'm going to be competing to play."

How he feels hearing such a heavy compliment like that: "I feel blessed. It didn’t come easy. It came with hard work and dedication. I want to thank my coaches and my parents for giving me the right mindset, to push myself to the limit and become this kind of player."

On the relief of committing: "I feel great. It's really been a lot on me. I feel a great get weight off my shoulders. I'm definitely excited."