Shrine Bowl Film Room: UAB CB Starling Thomas V Impresses On Day 1 Of Practices

Originally listed as one of my five cornerbacks to watch ahead of the East-West Shrine Bowl, UAB’s Starling Thomas V was far and away the best defensive back on the West roster, playing with a technical consistency that is refreshing to watch. Thomas V measured in at 5’9” at weigh-ins, to which he joked with me and Josh Carney that “I’m not that short, I play in shoes.”

Particularly in the absence of Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, who chose to attend the Shrine Bowl for measurements and interviews but will not participate in practices or the games, Starling Thomas V, stole the show at the defensive back position. Per my charting, Thomas V faced five targets, all of which came in 1v1 periods, allowing just one catch for five yards, and generating three pass breakups. For a defensive back to dominate in a 1v1 setting, particularly as a slot defender, where receivers have a two way go, Thomas V dominance is hard to overstate.

Starling Thomas V engaged in constant battles with Liberty’s Demario Douglas, who was the best receiver on the West roster in his own right, showing the ability to win at the line of scrimmage, separate at the top of routes, and flash late hands. On the rep below, Thomas V matches Douglas in the slot, playing with solid leverage from press coverage. At the snap, Thomas V stays patient and square to match the single stick release, engages a two hand jam and opens to match the inside break before flipping his hips seamlessly to track the whip route.

Thomas V counters Douglas’s elite change of direction ability with even better athleticism of his own, closing space rapidly and arriving to secure a tackle, finishing with a nice punch to the pocket. Evaluating DBs in 1v1 drills is often more about traits than results, and Starling Thomas V showcases some elite athletic traits and technical refinement on this rep.

Once again matching Demario Douglas from the slot, this time Thomas V aligns in catch man technique with his heels at the goal line. At the snap, he stays square with low pad level, maintaining inside leverage on the outside stem from the receiver before establishing contact on the upfield shoulder and finishing with a violent punch to secure the pass breakup. It’s hard not to love the mentality that Thomas V plays with, finishing every rep through the whistle, a textbook trait of many great defensive backs.

Back in catch man on the goal line, this time guarding Justin Shorter, a larger framed receiver from Florida, Thomas V once again does a great job of staying square, maintaining inside leverage on the pivot route, and bringing the physicality to the larger player at the top of the route. As Shorter plants to break back inside, Thomas V is decisive and aggressive to cut off the receivers path, working through the top shoulder to flatten the route short of the goal line, finishing through the hands at the catch point for another pass breakup. Note Thomas V’s consistency in his technique against two very different receivers in both frame and tempo in their routes. He trusts his technique and ability against any man who dares line up across from him.

Arguably the highlight of Day 1, the West coaching staff, run by New England Patriots staffers, chose to end practice with a 1v1 competition period, this time giving quarterbacks more space to work their downfield concepts. Liking what they had seen in the earlier period, the staff called for Douglas and Thomas V to resume their ongoing duel from the slot. Pre-snap, Thomas V bluffs inside leverage before shifting into outside leverage just before the snap, a veteran tool used to throw off the receivers timing.

Douglas counters the late pre-snap shift in leverage by using a single stick inside release. While Thomas V does a great job of staying square once again, Douglas is able to get even with Thomas V, but the speedy corner is able to engage in a footrace and avoid getting stacked downfield. In the back of the end zone, Thomas V is nearly past Douglas when he contorts his body to attack the receivers pocket with a perfectly timed punch, securing his third pass breakup on what would be his last rep of the day.

Needless to say, Demario Douglas and Starling Thomas V engaged in an impressive chess match on Day 1, standing out as two of the most athletically gifted and technically sound players on the field, dominating their competition despite lacking prototype size. Demario Douglas would go on to give the UAB product his props in his post practice conversation with myself and Josh Carney, citing his ability to repeatedly get in his face and challenge him in their matchups. These two have a history of facing off against each other at the collegiate level Conference USA, and are bringing out the best in each other as they showcase their talents to NFL personnel in attendance.

To Top
error: Alert: Content is protected !!