Father: Matthew Thomas prefers USC

The father of Florida State incoming freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas said Monday night that his son wants to attend USC.

"He made a decision for himself. It's USC," Billy Thomas said.

According to Billy Thomas, Matthew Thomas' mother said on signing day that she would not sign paperwork for him to attend USC but would for the Seminoles.

Matthew Thomas could not be reached. Billy said Matthew's mother -- whom he said he is not together with -- is out of the country.

A separate source said Matthew Thomas has not clearly told Florida State that he will not attend there, and that family conflict and outside influences are affecting the situation.

Thomas, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, was rated as ESPN's top linebacker prospect this year and the No. 6 player overall.

If Thomas, a Florida native, were to enroll at USC and not receive a release from Florida State or the National Letter of Intent group, he could follow in the path of signee Eddie Vanderdoes, who recently switched from Notre Dame to UCLA.

Vanderdoes is giving up one of his four total years of playing eligibility and also sitting out his freshman year as penalty for breaking his commitment.

"No disrespect to Florida State but Matthew is willing to take the punishment if there is one," Billy Thomas said. "He's hoping Jimbo will let him go."

Asked why Matthew wants to attend USC and not Florida State, his father said: "On signing day he didn't want to hurt his mom. But he's more excited now. It's about tradition. And surroundings. And excitement."

Billy Thomas said that, in Matthew's appeal, his son said he had "listened to my mother, who raised me, but now this [Florida State] isn't in my heart."

Florida State has shown no inclination to release Thomas from his scholarship without what it believes to be a compelling reason.

Coaches around the country applauded Notre Dame's decision not to release Vanderdoes and are hoping FSU does not release Thomas, for fear of setting a precedent requiring coaches to continue recruiting incoming freshmen.

"Don't pull teeth that aren't loose," Billy Thomas said. "I know it's tough for Jimbo and Florida State. They thought they caught the big fish. But I think they ought to just release him."