Mount Carmel’s Alek Thomas commits to TCU for baseball, football – Chicago Tribune
Mount Carmel junior Alek Thomas had to stop himself from laughing at the thought of playing three sports in college.
Thomas, a three-sport starter in football, basketball and baseball for the Caravan, went on an unofficial visit to Texas Christian in late January. While in Fort Worth, Thomas, who was mulling offers from numerous schools to play football and baseball, made an unscheduled trip to a TCU basketball game.
“I visited the football side and the baseball side and I also caught a basketball game, too,” Thomas said, laughing. “But I don’t plan on playing basketball.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Thomas, a quarterback, center fielder and guard, committed to TCU via Twitter on Friday. Without divulging his full list, Thomas said he “had a lot of offers.”
Thomas, who also unofficially visited Arizona State, said the ability to play baseball and football was a key selling point for TCU. The Horned Frogs have played in three consecutive College World Series and have sent Jake Arrieta, Matt Carpenter and Andrew Cashner, among others, to the major leagues.
“I think I found a good place to call home in the near future,” Thomas said. “The coaching staff really caught my eye. The facilities are great and a lot of great players and big league players come out of TCU. They just prepare you for the major leagues.
The football team has been coached by Gary Patterson the past 16 years. TCU has won six conference championships in that span.
“On the football side, I have a good relationship with offensive coordinator Coach (Sonny) Cumbie, and they were on board with playing two sports. Some schools are iffy about that but they were 100 percent on board and that really caught my eye.”
As a sophomore, the left-handed Thomas batted .394 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs to go with a .432 on-base percentage and .725 slugging percentage. He had seven doubles and five triples and scored 46 runs. Thomas has hit 19 homers in his varsity career.
In football as a junior, Thomas completed 74 of 105 passes for 998 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 903 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 203 yards and five touchdowns.
Thomas’ father, Allen, is the White Sox‘s director of strength and conditioning.
Mount Carmel baseball coach Brian Hurry said Thomas showed he was a special player early in his freshman season. Hurry debated whether to promote Thomas to the varsity because the Caravan were returning eight starters.
“We had a great team,” Hurry said. “I wasn’t sure a freshman would be able to crack a lineup like that. He definitely did. When we brought him up his freshman year in April, he was definitely there to stay. We knew right away he was special.
“This is my 20th year coaching at Mount Carmel and I never had a player who had all the tools that Alek possesses. He can run, he has a great arm, can hit for power and good baseball instincts.”
Thomas becomes the third Caravan to commit to a Division I school. Bobby Seymour (Wake Forest) and Zion Pettigrew (Iowa) both signed in November.
Hurry said the sky is the limit for the multi-talented Thomas.
“Alek wanted to go to a program he could win it all and play two sports,” he said. “This is a great step for him. He has all the tools, and can be as good as anybody I’ve seen in Illinois in my time as a coach.”
Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune.