never played one down of varsity football during his high school athletic career at Tokay (Lodi, Calif.)
He never played one down of college football until his fifth year at Portland State University.
However, with one year under his belt and a standout performance in the East-West Shrine football game, he was taken as a tight end in the fourth round of this year's NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.
Thomas, who starred in basketball both in high school and college, incredibly has followed a path taken by his father, Greg Thomas, who played baseball at JFK (Richmond, Calif.). He later made the Contra Costa Community College football team as a receiver and then moved on to the University of the Pacific where his career was cut short as a senior by a serious knee injury.
Thomas, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 256 pounds, runs 40 yards in 4.65 seconds and has a 35½-inch vertical jump. He can bench press 225 pounds 16 times.
"I played football a lot when I was younger," Thomas told MaxPreps. "I played Pop Warner in seventh and eighth grade. Football was a big part of my life. I spent a lot of time watching the game."
He tried out for the freshman football team at Tokay, but never got through preseason practice due to lower back pains. The culprit was a monster growth spurt that saw him shoot up from 5-9 to 6-2 by the start of his sophomore year.
"The doctor told me 'You've got to let your body take its course.' I thought I was going to be starting a long career. By the time I was a senior, I didn't have any issues," he said. "The main reason I didn't continue playing football was that my sophomore year I had a chance to play varsity basketball. I had a terrific year, the team was really good and I was starting to get attention for a college scholarship. I didn't want to take the risk of getting hurt."
Tokay basketball coach Dustin Lanz called Thomas "a major leader. He was the voice of the team. He had a really strong, deep voice and people followed him. He really took care of his body and his strength increased. He could really jump and he had a strong work ethic. In my offense, the ball had to go to him first. We had scorers all around him, but he was the centerpiece."
Thomas was the leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer as a senior, sparking the Tigers to their first Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship. Constantly driving to the basket, he made 11 of 19 free throws while fouling out Modesto's top two centers and drawing four on the No. 3 center.Continue reading