The 5-foot-9 3/4 , 170-pound class of 2007 tailback prospect has been a starter at Newark (N.J.) Shabazz since his freshman season. Last year, he said he rushed for 1,350 yards and 12 touchdowns in helping the Bulldogs reach a state championship game.
As a sophomore, however, Thomas' season was cut short in the season opener, when he broke his femur. In order to assist the healing process, Thomas had a titanium rod inserted in his leg. "It's thin but it's the size of the whole femur," Thomas said in a telephone interview Sunday.
"All I wanted to do was just finish my season but when they told me they had to put a titanium rod in my thigh I was just trying to do anything that was going to help me get back to playing football," Thomas said.
On Wednesday, Thomas will have surgery to remove the titanium rod.
"I played with a titanium rod in this season, but I'm scheduled to get the titanium rod removed March 8. So after the surgery I'm going to be back training," Thomas said.
Thomas, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman, is waiting to receive his first scholarship offer, but he is receiving considerable early interest from programs such as Virginia, Florida, Louisville, Iowa, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Michigan State. He said he is receiving lighter interest from Notre Dame and Kansas State, in addition to several additional Big Ten and Big 12 programs.
Offers could be on their way.
"I've just heard from my coaches (that) it sounds like a few schools have asked about me," Thomas said. "They wanted to offer me, but I haven't heard anything yet."
His early favorites are Penn State, Kansas State and Iowa. Thomas said the Nittany Lions have not been recruiting him, but he plans to attend a Penn State football camp this summer. He is also going to make his way to the adidas combine at Notre Dame.
"I just want to go to a program where I can get the ball at least 20 times," Thomas said. "I want to go to a program where I'll be in a good position to start as a freshman."
Despite playing with the titanium rod supporting his femur, Thomas certainly made a strong return to the football field last fall. Could he notice a difference, running with a metal rod in his leg?
"When I can notice it, is when it rains," Thomas said. "When it rains, or when it's about to snow or something, I can tell. Like my thigh starts hurting." The reason, he said, is because the rod reacts to changes in temperature.
Even so, Thomas participated with the Bulldogs' track team last spring, and he said he posted a personal record in the 100 meters (11.3 seconds). His best time in the 400 came as a freshman, when he ran a 52.0. He will compete in those two events, along with the 200, this spring. He said he has covered 40 yards in 4.45 seconds and that he can bench press 250 pounds.
Thomas intended to play basketball this winter, but the Bulldogs' run to the gridiron title game overlapped with hoops tryouts.