By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – At 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, Green Bay Southwest High School junior Thomas Paasch is starting to turn some heads in the football world.
With unofficial visits to Big Ten schools Nebraska and Wisconsin, and interest from another Big Ten school in Iowa, Paasch still has time to improve his game.
“I can grow a few more inches and put on more weight,” Thomas, the son of Andy and Melissa Paasch, said. “I can get up to 305 pounds – maybe more – comfortably, I think.”
Paasch will be attending the Wisconsin-Northwestern game Nov. 13 for another unofficial visit, and Nebraska officials said they’d like to have him back after its season is complete.
“Wisconsin asked for my transcripts as well,” Paasch said. “I’m not sure what I want to study yet, but my core class grade-point average is a 3.6 right now.”
The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University have also shown interest in Paasch, a left tackle for the Trojans, who finished 1-8 this past season.
Paasch said he has several things to work on before next season and beyond.
“I’m working on my diet – cleaning that up and eating more protein,” he said. “If I could eat a dozen eggs for breakfast and chicken for lunch every day, I’d do that. I’m also working on getting more explosive, stronger and faster feet. If I can attend a combine and be a good body weight, not look like I just ate the whole buffet and still run a 4.8 (second 40-yard dash), that would be awesome. My goal is to be athletic at a good weight.”
With numerous things to work on, Paasch said he also displays plenty of good qualities, both on and off the field.
“I feel I have a strong work ethic,” he said. “In the offseason, I’m working out three times a day and still finding time to do my homework. If you have a guy who’s all talent with no work ethic, he’s not going anywhere.”
Paasch has a strength class at Southwest, works out with the team after school and goes to a local facility in the evening for more work.
“It’s a full day,” Paasch said. “To improve, it’s what I have to do. My goal is to make it to the NFL (National Football League), but to do that, I have to be among the top 1% of the 1%.”
Paasch plans to attend three showcase events in the next few months, so he said he’s hoping to improve as much as possible.
“It’s going to these events and getting your name out there,” he said. “From what I’ve been told and noticed, recruiting is much different than it used to be.”
Paasch also recently received word he’s been invited to the 2022 National Combine at the All-American Bowl from Jan. 6-8 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“Right now, he’s one of the top underclassmen (in the country), with only 600 invited to the Combine,” Andy Paasch said. “If he does well there, he will be a part of the 2023 All-American game.”
With interest from three Big Ten schools, there might not be much more room to go up from here for Paasch, but he said more interest creates competition.
“I’m thankful for the schools that have shown interest so far,” he said. “It’s a blessing. Having said that, I’d like to generate more interest.”
His father also chimed in about the recruiting process.
“I want Thomas to enjoy (the recruiting process) as much as possible,” Andy Paasch said. “It’s a stressful situation. You work hard and try to get your name out there as much as possible. I’m sure when it’s all over, he’ll be happy.”
Paasch, who’s also on the Trojans track and field team in the spring, said it was a big honor meeting former Bay Port High School and current Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen at a Green Bay Booyah – now the Green Bay Rockers – baseball game this past summer.
Van Lanen is a member of the Packers practice squad.
“Meeting (Van Lanen) was cool because he’s doing what I want to do,” Paasch said. “He went to Wisconsin and is in the NFL – it’s amazing. It would be cool to be one of those names looked up to for motivation.”