Scott spoke to Tommy shortly after he was drafted and posted an excellent article about it which you can read by clicking HERE. This is a selection that we really love, rated as a 5th or 6th round prospect we were able to add a highly versatile guy to the roster in the 7th. With only Lex Hilliard ahead of him on the depth chart, Tommy is coming into a great situation where he has a feel chance to break camp as the starting full back. Personally I think he will, looking at his game, it would surprise me if he didn't make the team. As Scott pointed out in his article, Tommy was close to John Idzik's son Brad who is also a player at Wake Forrest and had a lot of contact with the Jets throughout the process. He also has a former teammate in Josh Bush on the roster, which should help him settle in when rookie camp comes around and then eventual training camp. There is a lot to like about this selection, so lets dive straight in.
Tommy attended North Fort Myers high school in Florida, and for anyone interested this is the same high school that produced Deion Sanders among others. He earned All-Area, All-District and All-Conference honors his Sophomore year, his Junior year and his Senior Year. He ran for over 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns during his career at Fort Myers being named team MVP his Senior season. He was also named MVP of the Carrigan All-Star Football Classic in 2008. He also lettered in baseball as a first baseman.
As a Sophomore Tommy saw extended action as a linebacker, recording 69 tackles and 3 sacks for his team who finished the season with an impressive 11-2 record and the District 5A-12 Championship. He led the team in tackles his Junior season and finished his Senior Season with 193 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Fullbacks are never the most highly recruited or rated prospects in the nation and that was true for Tommy as well. He was rated as a 2* prospect by Scout.com and the 5th best FB that year. While Rivals.com rated him as a 3* prospect. There were plenty of offers to consider for Tommy however, including scholarships from Michigan State, Louisville, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. However in the end he felt most comfortable with Wake Forrest where he enrolled in January 2009.
He went straight into action his Freshman year seeing time throughout the season. He would be used primarily as a blocker, however he also finished the season with 8 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown, as well as 16 carries for 51 yards. He instantly gained recognition as a ferocious blocker, a player willing to put everything out there are either pave the way for his back or protect the quarterback.
In 2010 as a Sophomore he saw action in all 12 contests, as well as starting 4 as the fullback. He continued from his impressive Freshman campaign rushing 17 times for 77 yards (4.5 a click) and catching 11 balls for 75 yards. However again it was his upper body strength and blocking technique that really stood out on film as he continually moved defenders out of the way and his soft hands meant that he was always a reliable check down option if the play in front broke down.
His Junior year again saw him play in every single game and he increased his starts to 6. He rushed 15 times for 31 yards and caught 9 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. I know these numbers don't say a great deal and it's difficult to quantify a fullbacks worth when he often goes long stretches without touching the football. However between his Junior year and his Senior year, the coaching staff at Wake Forrest realized that they had a commodity here that they should exploit.
2012 was Tommy's best year, yet he only carried the football twice for just the one yard, although that one yard was a goal line situation and he walked away with a touchdown. However he moved around a lot his senior year, playing more as a H-Back than anything. He would often line up in the backfield and block as a traditional fullback, excelling all the way. However he would line up in two back sets and up at the line as a tight end. This helped him catch 23 balls for 208 yards and 5 touchdowns his senior year.
Coming into the combine, plenty of people were aware that Tommy was an excellent blocking fullback. However the way the league is going, you need to offer up more than just this. So when he bench pressed 225lb's 36 times, a lot of people stood up and paid attention. It showed an incredible amount of upper body strength and as Scott pointed out in his article, Tommy has been known to bench press 550lb's and squat 700lb's. Now that is extremely impressive. His other measurable attributes were impressive too but it was his performance in position based drills that really stood out. He ran smooth, clean in the cuts and caught the ball extremely well. A lot of people then realized why he had been lining up as a tight end, but at 6'1 his future was never going to be there, especially as he doesn't possess elite speed. Although during his pro day he did improve his 40 time from 4.88 (combine) to 4.76.
+ Excellent blocker in the run game and pass protection
+ Exceptionally strong in the upper and lower body
+ Has soft hands to catch the ball out of the backfield.
+ Regarded as a leader on and off the field at Wake Forrest
+Shows good commitment to his craft, weight room.
~ Didn't have a great deal of production at Wake.
~Doesn't possess great speed
~Not too much of a threat to run with the football
Before the draft, most scouts agreed that Tommy was a traditional fullback that needed to find the right system to flourish in. Luckily he has found it with Marty Mornhinweg's west coast offence. As Scott pointed out in his article, in 2001 Marty's fullback Cory Schlesinger had 60 receptions for 466 yards. You need to be versatile in this system and Tommy is exactly that. He has a lot of strength and distributes it well, so he can block with the best of them and not many players will get the better of him. He can certainly catch the football either as a check down option from the fullback position or playing as a H-Back and going out in a pattern. As I mentioned in the introduction, he has a great opportunity to come in here and take the starting spot on this roster. I fully expect him to do that and It'll be interesting to see how he is used in this offence.