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Drake Thomas, Heritage linebacker, announces he's joining his brother at NC State

Heritage’s Drake Thomas carries the ball during a playoff game last season. Thomas will be joining his brother Thayer at N.C. State.
Heritage’s Drake Thomas carries the ball during a playoff game last season. Thomas will be joining his brother Thayer at N.C. State. News & Observer file

Heritage High linebacker Drake Thomas will be joining his brother Thayer at N.C. State in the fall, he announced Friday at the school.

The Class of 2019 three-star player selected the Wolfpack over Alabama, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Thayer Thomas, who also played at Heritage, is a redshirt freshman wide receiver at N.C. State.

Drake Thomas, who's 6-1 and 225 pounds, is the No. 22 player in the state and the No.-19 ranked inside linebacker in the country, according to 247Sports.

Orange High School linebacker Payton Wilson, Thomas' close friend, in December flipped from UNC to the Wolfpack, and it was questioned whether Thomas would join him in Raleigh. Wilson, who enrolled at N.C. State in January, was there when Thomas made his announcement.

"It's pretty exciting to have one of my best friends play beside me," Wilson said. "I'm just ready for these next four years."

Thomas plans on graduating in December and enrolling early at N.C. State.

"I had a lot of great opportunities, they are all blessings and I am thankful for all of them," Thomas said. "But when it came down to it, I felt like this was the best fit for me and my family."

Heritage High School linebacker Drake Thomas talks about joining his older brother at NC State.

Clemson, Thomas said, was in the running, but ultimately, he felt N.C. State was the right fit.

Drake Thomas told his dad, Trevor, and brother Thayer two weeks ago that he was picking the Wolfpack. Thayer Thomas, who was a walk-on last season, was given a scholarship in the spring. Thayer being at N.C. State, Trevor felt, was the biggest influence on Drake choosing the Wolfpack. Thayer never pressured his brother to join him in Raleigh, but Trevor was excited his sons would be playing together again.

"They started out at a young age playing together and we felt like the last time they stepped on the field (in high school) that might be their last chance to play together," Trevor Thomas said. "But with N.C. State giving an opportunity to both of them, it's a dream come true."

Trevor Thomas, who played football at Marshall, said they always told Drake to make a decision based on his heart. And even though he had the inside track playing for the Wolfpack, Thayer said the choice was 100 percent up to Drake.

"It would have been special either way, I would have supported his decision wherever he went," Thayer Thomas said. "But since I've been there I've tried to get him to N.C. State. I haven't really pressured him, but I think he made the ultimate decision on his own."

Drake Thomas will not only join his brother and Wilson, but former Heritage teammates Ricky Person, a freshman running back last season, and Joseph Boletepeli, a defensive end, at N.C. State. Person and Boletepeli will both be freshmen this fall. That also played a big part in his decision.

"It's a big deal, just because whenever I'm there I feel comfortable," Drake Thomas said. "Whenever I get over there I have a home feeling and I feel comfortable."

Drake Thomas has been a starter on the Huskies’ varsity team since his freshman year. He had 112 tackles last season for Heritage and has racked up 270 stops in three seasons. As a part-time running back, he rushed for 287 yards and three scores as a junior, leading the Huskies to a 12-2 record and the third round of the NCHSAA playoffs.

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