TEMPE, Ariz. — This freshman was a three-star defensive back from Lubbock, Texas. His uncle was a seven-time pro bowler and Todd Graham has him playing first-team defense for nearly every tempo drill this spring, alongside upperclassmen like Kareem Orr and Maurice Chandler.
When asking to speak with Ty Thomas after Friday’s practice, the media SID responded, “Who?”
Well, if you still care to get to know him, the 5-foot-11, 195 pound safety from Cooper High School — just 11 and a half miles from Texas Tech in Lubbock — is your typical Texas football player.
Soaking with sweat after after a three-hour practice, Thomas adjusted his helmet straps, flipped his head gear off his head as his brown hair came dangling in front of his face before brushing it away. It was like standing in front of fictional Texas football star Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights.
“I’m just aggressive,” Thomas said. “I try to go all out. I try to do as much as I can for my team.”
On National signing day, head coach Todd Graham characterized Thomas’ playing style as the way football is “supposed to be played.”
Being under 6-feet and 200 pounds, Thomas has to be aggressive, must prove himself every snap and like he said, go “all out.”
His uncle, former NFL player Zach Thomas, doesn’t have nearly a full head of hair like Ty — in fact, he’s bald, but played much like his nephew does. Weighing around 50 pounds heavier than Ty, Zach was a linebacker for the Chiefs and Cowboys for a year each and spent a dozen years with the Dolphins.
Just like Ty, Zach was 5-foot-11, five inches shorter than the average NFL player in 2013 according to NFL.com.
“He was a little undersized at linebacker and I’m a little undersized at DB, so you play with a chip on your shoulder and give it a little bit more than everyone else,” Thomas said. “He was always a ball hog, always around the ball, so I just try to model my game after his.”
In a recruiting class with four other incredibly skilled defensive backs, three of them four stars, Thomas is out to compete for a spot on the field come this fall.
Being a three-star, Thomas has that fighter mentality in him.
“That was definitely a chip on my shoulder,” Thomas said. “I’m not really bothered by it, but yeah it gives me a little incentive to keep working and prove myself.”
To prove himself, before other secondary recruits barge in and upperclassmen like Armand Perry and Dasmond Tautalatasi are back from injuries, Thomas has made the trek to Tempe a bit early. Rather than staying his senior year at Copper, he’s in maroon and gold.
Thomas, along with running back Eno Benjamin are the only two of Arizona State’s 18 recruits to enroll early.
“I’m definitely having to do a little bit of both learning the system and adjusting to the speed,” Thomas said. “I’m glad I’m here, I definitely need the work. I’m getting the reps that I need, I’ve just got to start getting better.”