Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Tribute and Farewell to Phillip Thomas

The disappointing football season is over and the Syracuse football players have returned home for winter break without any obligations. This time last year, the student athletes were preparing for the Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State. So what's next for some Syracuse football players? The NFL Draft. Who will try their luck at the next level? There have been a lot of rumors about players leaving and staying but there is one player we know wont be returning to Syracuse next year.

Phillip Thomas.

Thomas was suspended with just two games left in the regular season for a violation of athletic department policy. The University was very vague, not offering a specific reason for the year-long suspension. But it's now likely that Phillip Thomas will try his hardest to become an NFL player.

His status yesterday said he got invited to the NFL combine, which is the first step in becoming a pro.
So I caught up with Phil before his pursuit of fame began to ask him a few questions. I thought it was fitting to write a tribute to Thomas after the three good seasons he gave the Orange.

Throughout his three-season career, he made 135 tackles and brought in nine interceptions. This past season, at the time of his suspension, Thomas had a Big East-leading six interceptions and was on pace to be in the top 20 in the country. Thomas was also a big part in the Pinstripe Bowl victory in 2010, recording seven tackles to end his sophomore season.

"My favorite part of Syracuse University was the school pride, not only in the city but in the state of New York." Thomas said. "Very cool being able to go somewhere and people can point out you play football for Syracuse University."

Thomas told me his most memorable moment in an Orange jersey was beating West Virginia this past season. In that game, he intercepted a pass and made seven tackles.

"Syracuse University offered me a top notch education, five meals a day, and a place to sleep at night and place the sport I love." Thomas said, clearly appreciative of everything he's received in Central New York.

So what's next for Phil?

"I plan on getting drafted into the NFL this upcoming April..." Thomas said. He also wants to start a foundation as a way to give back to the community.

According to Thomas, he will announce his entry into the draft officially at the beginning of next year. He said he has hired an agent and has already been in talks with a few teams. He made a visit to Washington D.C. yesterday and posted a picture of himself in what appears to be a practice jersey. Thomas presumably visited the Washington Redskins facility and he said they are a front runner to draft him in April. Phillip's guess? Fourth round. He wants to stay on the East Coast, hopefully either the Redskins, Giants or Eagles.

Regardless of where Thomas ends up, he will always love Syracuse University. I found this post fitting because even though he was suspended from the school and left early, he did a lot for the football team and personally, I appreciate that.

Thomas won two National championships and a Heisman trophy with the Orange ... in the NCAA Footall '12 video game. Hopefully one day he'll be playing as himself in Madden, winning the Superbowl.

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