Up Close: Isaiah Thomas

<I>Inside Carolina</i>'s Andy Britt is touring the countryside to visit each UNC football commitment. Look for his unique, on-location profiles all year long. Today, he reports from Winston-Salem on lineman Isaiah Thomas.

WINSTON-SALEM – No one gave young Isaiah Thomas much of chance at success in his boyhood. By his own admission, he was a ‘fat kid,' who got very little respect – especially when it came to athletics.

"I wasn't able to play football, and people always told me that I couldn't play football," Thomas said.

Only weighing in at six pounds at birth, he quickly added girth, and shortly after that, acquired his nickname.

"When I started to grow up, every time I got mad, my dad said I would ‘puff' up."

With blazing speed for a child of his size, Thomas continued to prove doubters wrong all through school.

"I always wanted to run the ball; my dad was a fullback," Thomas said. "In middle school I started running, and actually I was faster than a lot of the other kids. When I got to high school, that just made me a lot better and I became a pulling guard.

"My family trusted in me, and I trusted myself," he said. "The people who have told me what I can't do, have helped me get here."

He's now a man, and don't be surprised by the baby face. Thomas is as thick as any of UNC's healthy load of inside lineman recruits for 2003.

"If you don't have any beef, it's going to be hard for you to compete," Thomas said. "If you want a ring, you have to do what you have to - to win."

"Isaiah's the strongest kid I've ever had here," Carver head coach Keith Wilkes added. "He presses over 450 pounds, squats over 700 pounds and runs a 4.7-40[-yard dash]. At 330 pounds, that is just unheard of by a high school kid.

"If you looked at our weight room for the last three years, he has been the last to leave."

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