After donning a redshirt in 2011, Thomas appeared in only three games last year, recording his lone career tackle against Idaho. But all the loss along the defensive line has opened a door big enough for the 6-foot-3, 290-pound DT to walk through.
Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson stand comfortably atop the depth chart, but there's plenty of uncertainty as to who will fill the depth chart behind them. That has provided an opportunity Thomas hopes to capitalize on, and he appears poised to breakthrough in his sophomore campaign.
"I know I need to step up," Thomas said. "I'm expected to play a big role this year. This is probably the best camp I've had since I've been here. I'm moving fast on the field. I know all the plays. I'm just excited about getting on the field this year."
Thomas has spent most of Fall Camp working with the second-team defensive line, though at times he's jumped up to the first-team to spell Ferguson or Johnson. But for the most part he's part of the mix working to earn time behind those two veterans.
Thomas along with Mickey Johnson and a trio of freshman have all had chances to prove their worth. With all that competition, Thomas said he's just "fighting for a spot" right now.
"We're competing, but at the end of the day, we're a team," Thomas said. "If one of us goes down, then the next person has to know what they're doing. It does matter who plays, but at the end of the day, everyone has to know what they're doing because you never know when you'll be put out there."
Thomas arrived at LSU as a raw three-star recruit from Breaux Bridge. He said over the years he's improved his technique and quickness while maintaining the size that made him an intriguing prospect in high school.
With a lot of attention focused on him this past spring, Thomas emerged as a definite candidate to earn playing time come the season.
"I showed the coaches I was the right choice when they offered my scholarship," Thomas said. "I showed them that if given the chance, I can play, I can perform."
Thomas hopes the little experience he did gain in 2012 helps him stand out. Though he's never played in a SEC game, he does have a better understanding of the speed of the game, and said he knows better how to adjust to that pace.
Add in tutelage from guys like Michael Brockers and Bennie Logan, and Thomas has a solid foundation to build on. But it will take more than that to beat out this upcoming crop of freshman.
Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain arrived this summer as highly-rated prospects, and Christian Lacouture has been earning his stripes since the spring. Thomas said those three are certainly eager for playing time.
"There's always going to pressure," Thomas said. "There are always young guys coming in eager and anxious to get their time. That puts pressure on me because I know they come in with the mindset that they're going to play. That pushes me to make sure I have my spot."
Which young DT will have the best 2013?