On Saturday, the Auburn senior linebacker heard his name called as the second round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Thomas is upbeat about the opportunity.
"I am really excited," he says. "Going to Minnesota will be a great opportunity for me. They have a great team and I've heard good things about the city. They have the potential to be contenders and make it to the Super Bowl this year. It will be a great opportunity to express my love for football."
As a senior, Thomas made a move from outside linebacker to the middle spot where he earned first team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches as did fellow linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was selected as the first pick of the second round by the Arizona Cardinals. Thomas was second in total tackles behind Dansby this past season with 75. He had nine tackles for losses, forced one fumble and intercepted one pass.
Dontarrious Thomas is one of 18 Division I college football players to win an $18,000 National College Scholar-Athlete scholarship for graduate school.
Thomas was second on the team in tackles with 92 his junior season when he was named MVP of the Capital One Bowl. He became a regular starter as a sophomore and led the Tigers with tackles as he made 122 stops. He started three times as a redshirt freshman when he made 62 stops to earn Freshman All-SEC honors. A year earlier he was redshirted after being a little-known prospect out of Perry, Ga., High School.
Thomas is projected to be an outside linebacker in the NFL. He admits he was nervous when the draft started and he watched very little. He notes that he had no idea of what team was the most interested in him even though he had been impressive in pre-draft workouts attended by every team in the NFL.
"I got up kind of late," Thomas says. "I didn't really want to watch it. I just watched the first five picks then I sat around with my mom and then I hung out with my boys--Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Carlos Rogers, Anthony Mix and Kevin Hobbs. We all hung out, watched the draft and I tried to keep my mind off of it."
Dansby says he was seriously surprised that he was drafted by the Cardinals. Likewise, Thomas wasn't expecting to be picked by the Vikings, but says he was not caught totally off guard by the pick like Dansby was on Saturday. "I was surprised," Thomas says. "I talked to them every now and then, but I didn't even know if they needed linebackers. I can still remember the meeting we had. I'm glad they gave me the opportunity to come out and play."
Thomas plans to fly to Minneapolis next weekend to begin what he hopes will be a long and successful professional career.
Day two of the draft is scheduled for Sunday with rounds three through seven. Other Tigers who could be selected include fullback Brandon Johnson, defensive linemen Demarco McNeil, Reggie Torbor and Spencer Johnson, wide receiver Jeris McIntyre and offensive linemen Mark Pera and Monreko Crittenden.