Doing It The Right Way

Linebacker coach Joe Whitt talks about one of his award-winning players.

Auburn, Ala.--Joe Whitt is going to be a proud position coach on Tuesday night when one of his favorite Auburn football players is honored by the National Football Foundation at its Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Senior linebacker Dontarrious Thomas is one of 15 college football players from around the country who will be receiving an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Thomas, who has already earned his degree in management information systems, is playing his senior season as a graduate student.

Thomas will receive his award in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel with Whitt, Tommy Tuberville and other Auburn officials attending the ceremony.

"He is just an outstanding guy," says Whitt. "DT is the total package. He is a student-athlete in every sense of the word. From my understanding, he has not made anything less than a B since he has been in college. To get the award that the National Football Foundation is going to present him is just outstanding.

"It is a credit to our academic staff, it is a credit to Coach Tuberville, it is a credit to Auburn and it is a credit to DT's family probably more than anybody," Whitt says. "His mom and dad brought him up with a sense of urgency about the importance of education. He always has worked to be successful academically. He has always put it first."

Dontarrious Thomas (54) checks out the Tennessee offense in Auburn's victory over the Vols this season.

Thomas is a three-time Academic All-SEC selection and earned Academic All-America honors as a senior. He is a four-time winner of the Auburn's Top Tiger academic award. He was a finalist for the SEC Boyd C. Whorter Student-Athlete of the Year Award in 2002. He is also a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society and is the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Scholar-Athlete Award.

"This is a tremendous honor for Dontarrious," Tuberville says. "He has been outstanding not only on the football field, but in the classroom and in the community. His efforts during his time at Auburn are reflected in this award."

Thomas, a 6-4, 238 senior, is in the Top 10 in career tackles in Auburn history with one game left. He will wrap up his collegiate career on Dec. 31st as his Tigers take on Wisconsin at the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Thomas was the Defensive MVP of the 2003 Capital One Bowl following the 2002 season as Auburn defeated Penn State. He is the fourth player in Auburn football history to be honored by the National Football Foundation as an outstanding student-athlete.

Dontarrious Thomas

Thomas has also been an active volunteer in community projects such as the March of Dimes, Toys for Tots and the Read Across America programs.

Whitt says that Thomas has been a pleasure for him to coach. "DT didn't come to college for fun, football and an education," Whitt says. "He came to college for an education, football and fun, which is the way I think it should be. I think every college student should have a great time while they are here, but the number one reason to be here is to get the education and DT has that as his first priority."

Other Tigers to receive the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award include fullback/kicker Ed Dyas in 1960, linebacker John Cochran in 1963 and linebacker Gregg Carr in 1985.

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