The linebacker from tiny Perry, Ga., was part of an Auburn defense that came up big in Auburn's 28-14 Music City Bowl victory over Wisconsin on New Year's Eve. Thomas was one of 13 seniors playing their final game for the Tigers. Most had impressive performances against the Badgers.
"A lot of the seniors on this team are on defense and we knew we had to take it upon ourselves to play well and get this team going," the middle linebacker said. "It is something special to end on a good note. That is something you always want to do. You always want to go out with a bang."
It was a second straight bowl victory over a Big Ten opponent. Last season in Orlando, Fla., Auburn took control of the game in the fourth quarter for a victory over Penn State. This year the fourth quarter victim was Wisconsin.
"We take pride in being able to stop a Big Ten team," Thomas said. "When we go out on the field against them, we know what they are going to do. They are going to line up and play some tough football against us. We just wanted to go out there and man up against them and make the best plays possible.
Auburn improved its all-time bowl record to 16-12-2 and the Tigers are now 6-6-2 all-time in bowls vs. the Big Ten Conference as they denied Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez his 100th career victory at the Big Ten school. Alvarez lost just his second bowl game in nine postseason appearances.
Auburn's victory was the first for an SEC team in the six-year history of the Music City Bowl.
With Auburn suffering a disappointing regular season, there was a question of how hard the Tigers would play in Nashville. That question was answered with a hard-nosed victory over Wisconsin.
"I think coming out and playing hard showed something about our character," Thomas said. "We were able to execute well, play hard and take it to them."
"This game showed that we stick together and that we are a family," he added. "No matter what goes on outside within ourselves we are family and we are going to stick beside each other."