SOUTHFIELD - While doing an interview on Wednesday at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, incoming Michigan State freshman Lawrence Thomas and a media member conducting an interview were jokingly interrupted by Spartan running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Brad Salem.
"How is he (Thomas) doing with the interview?" Salem asked the interviewer. "Is he speaking up, annunciating well?"
Then Salem patted Thomas on the back with a smile and headed down the hallway at Southfield High School to join other Michigan State coaches before going out to the Southfield football stadium to watch camp drills.
A year ago, Thomas was one of these participants at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. Last year, Thomas spoke for himself when doing interviews. Now, when the incoming blue chip freshman speaks, he is also speaking for his new team and program, the Michigan State Spartans.
"I'm real excited," said Thomas, who wore a Michigan State visor while watching camp drills on Wednesday. "This is going to be a big transition in my life. I'm so used to all of these high school football camps in the summer and I can't wait to go up there July 1st and just show my talents for the next level. I want to go up there humble and try to show what I can do to help the team."
Last year, Rivals.com ranked Thomas the No. 1 player in Michigan in 2011, No. 55 in the nation and the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country. He said he weighs 260 pounds and is eager to report to Michigan State on July 1 and begin sharpening himself into even better shape.
Thomas doesn't expect to be at 260 when the 2011 season begins against Youngstown State on Friday, Sept. 2. He also said coaches have not given him a target weight for July 1. The weight is not an issue for the big-boned middle linebacker.
"The coaches know once I get to summer camp that I'm going to lose so much weight, so I'm going to go into the season at like 245 or 240," Thomas said. "So that is not a big deal right now. They just know that once I get up there with Coach Mannie, all this weight is going to come right off. A lot of it is water weight. It'll come off, so nobody is making a big deal out of it.
"They just basically want me to maintain my speed, don't lose any speed, so I'm just trying to stay flexible and work on my speed."
Thomas has been in steady contact with former high school teammates and future Spartan teammates Chris Norman, Mylan Hicks and Dana Dixon.
"I talk to them basically every day because they are like my brothers," Thomas said. "I have a real good relationship with all of them because they were all from (Detroit) Renaissance. Plus I know William Gholston and all of them. I pretty much know everybody on the team, but the three from Renaissance are the guys I talk to every day."
Thomas looks solid and strong at his current weight.
"I've been working out at the Total Sports Complex in Wixom with Jim Kielbaso, three days a week," Thomas said. "I've been working out with him, getting prepared for the coming season at Michigan State."
As for the visor, Thomas said: "I just like to show people where I'm from and where I'm going, and just basically repping my home state. Everywhere I go I'm wearing something that symbolizes Michigan State, like a hat, or some shoes or just anything."
Including his new tattoo. He has a block S on his left arm, which he incorporated into a tribute to his late grandfather, Sylvester Thomas.
"He passed in January, and everybody called him 'Syl'" he said. "So I tattooed R.I.P. with the 'S' right next to it for him, for his name."
And also as a nod to his future school, which will be awaiting his arrival in a little more than two weeks.