Charlie Thomas

Thomasville defensive back Charlie Thomas and his parents pose with offensive coordinator Jeremy Rayburn, head coach Zach Grage and defensive backs coach Benjamin Pierce after Thomas signed his letter of intent to play football at Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

THOMASVILLE — Charlie Thomas’ transition from Bulldog to Yellow Jacket is now official.

Thomasville’s prized defensive back signed his letter of intent to play football for Georgia Tech on Wednesday, becoming the first Bulldog to take advantage of the NCAA’s early signing period.

“It feels overwhelming, really,” Thomas said. “I’m just excited. I just want to make everybody happy. I feel like it adds more pressure, and I like pressure.”

Those expectations will come immediately when he steps on campus in Atlanta on Jan. 6 as an early enrollee, where he’ll be expected to compete for a starting spot. The chance to play immediately was one of the main reasons Thomas chose Tech over schools like Georgia, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. While some other schools weren’t so clear on where they would use him, Tech offered Thomas at safety, linebacker and receiver.

“I expect great competition,” Thomas said. “Because it’s a DI school, there’s going to be competition.”

During his senior year, Thomas played on both sides of the ball to help the Bulldogs to their best season in decades. On defense, he racked up 78 total tackles, 56 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, an interception and a team-leading four fumble recoveries. On the offensive side, he rushed for 242 yards and three touchdowns, and caught 27 passes for 442 yards and two more scores. In a critical region game against Early County, he filled in admirably at quarterback for an injured JT Rice.

He’s come a long way since his sophomore year, when he played on the worst Thomasville team ever, the 1-8 squad from 2015. Despite all that experience, though, he still feels like his ceiling is yet to be reached.

“I feel like as the years go by, you learn more,” Thomas said. “I learned a lot this season about things going well, but you still have to do things right. We didn’t play horrible in the third round game, but we didn’t play perfect. The little things affect the big things.”

Thomas joins a list of Thomasville defensive backs that have made it to the next level, the likes of Fred Holton, Jeffrey Dyson and current Georgia Southern redshirt sophomore Jay Bowdry. Charlie has left his mark in the Rose City as part of a special year that will be talked about for a while. Now, he’ll look to carry that success to the ACC, one of the most prestigious conferences in college football.

“It’s awesome for all of our kids to be able to go on and have this opportunity at the next level, getting your school paid for,” Thomasville head coach Zach Grage said. “I was taught over in Colquitt, that was one of the big things we did — we won and we sent people to college. We’re starting to get that same idea going here at Thomasville. The name Thomasville should resonate with success. Whenever we send a kid like Charlie off to Georgia Tech, that’s huge.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and his family and an opportunity to make Thomasville proud, which I know he will.”