After receiving a medical redshirt his freshman season due to an ankle sprain, J.T. Thomas became a staple in the Mountaineer defense over the next four years. Over his career, he worked and improved until he was one of the most consistent playmakers on the entire unit. His technique and abilities have improved each year he's played as a Mountaineer, and with his sights set on the NFL draft, he's committed to taking the final steps to the highest level of the game.
The former Mountaineer linebacker's career should be measured in more than numbers. His athleticism and desire allowed for Thomas to excel in whatever duty he was asked to execute. Whether it was run stuffing, pass rushing or dropping into coverage, he got the job done and did so with resounding force. Versatility at the linebacking position is paramount in the NFL and Thomas feels he has the tools necessary to at least intrigue coaches at the next level. An invitation to the NFL Combine was a testament to that and gave Thomas even more confidence to pursue a professional football career.
Thomas prides himself on being an upstanding, honest and unselfish individual with a team-oriented mindset and he believes all of those qualities are his greatest selling points.
"I'm not a guy with anything to hide," Thomas said as he awaited the draft at week's end. "I believe in faith and trust. I just am how I am and a team that needs to draft me will draft me."
Being on the cusp of a dream can be overwhelming, but the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native keeps his expectations tempered while maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude.
"I'm excited, but I'm more anxious than anything. I try not to get my hopes up too much, but I do think I'll be drafted. It all depends where I'll be drafted, though. It could be anywhere between the third and seventh rounds. It just depends on what a team needs and wants."
According to Thomas more than 20 NFL teams have expressed interest in his services. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have shown a high amount of interest, with the Dolphins going so far as to schedule a private workout with him. The results of such workouts are almost always a one way street, as pro scouts and player personnel directors rarely give any indication of their thinking, but the fact that he has had so much interest is at least a positive sign. Whether that results in a draft pick or a free agent offer remains to be seen, but Thomas is not going to sweat it out. He has done everything he can to impress, so now it's just a waiting game until his name is called.
While he's looking forward to the next phase of his career, he has also spent a bit of time reflecting on his days in the Gold and Blue. Thomas attributes the opportunity ahead of him to the coaches and players he's played with.
"I had a lot of good moments but I think my favorite year was my senior season. I wish I could frame it up or put it in a bottle. The coaches and my teammates had a lot to do with that. We were ranked in the top three in the country in total defense and I take a lot of pride in that."