Adversity. A word that Shamarko Thomas knows all too well.
Quitting. A term not in the dictionary owned by the defensive back that played for the Syracuse Orange football program.
With talent and output of a late first-, early second-round pick, Thomas instead did not hear his name called in any of the first three rounds.
On the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, it was in the fourth-round that Thomas had a door opened into the next level of his career.
The Pittsburgh Steelers came calling at the 111th pick, grabbing Thomas in the opening round of the third day.
Though he had to hear over 100 players names called ahead of him, going to a team where you can have an immediate impact weighs heavier than the draft number next to your name.
The Steelers have relied on safety Troy Polamalu to create disturbances for opposing offenses, but he has recently been plagued by injury, playing in a mere seven games this past season.
With a defense entrenched in history as one of the most feared, putting the fight back into the defense means opening up opportunities to new players.
Enter Shamarko Thomas, a player unafraid to put his whole body on the line to make a tackle. Someone who would put his car in neutral at the bottom of a hill and push it up the hill by himself, and that was on top of the workouts Syracuse gave him.
If Thomas can take his hard-hitting nature and speed, including his increasing ability to anticipate where the ball is going, get there, and catch it to gain possession, he can become an immediate positive impact on the Steelers.
As a mid-round pick, Thomas has the talent, the drive, the faith, and the team to help get him on the field as a starter in his rookie season.
Even a better person than player, Thomas will not have to go too far away from home, heading north from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With his father and mother having past on, Thomas currently takes care of all of his siblings, along with the help of a strong support system.
He has stated that he tries to take care of his family in any way he can and wanted to achieve this goal of becoming a professional football player to provide for his family.
With constant work to be the best he can be both on the field and off, you can test him as much as you want, but Thomas is not one to stay down in the dirt. The Steelers lived their name with this pick. Thomas was a steal.