Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mr. Thomas goes to Storrs

Donald Thomas' future will include graduation from the University of Connecticut in May and then, if all goes according to plan, law school next fall.

Thomas, a West Haven resident, has other goals as well. One is to start on the Huskies offensive line this fall, his senior season. That's still a work in progress and Thomas, the top backup at right guard behind Immanuel Hutcherson, is hoping he can win the job before the season opener against Rhode Island on Aug. 31.

"I'm closer (to starting) now than I've ever been before," Thomas said shortly after Tuesday afternoon's practice ended. "There's a lot of competition now between me and the first string guy, but it's all good competition. I'm just going to continue to work and hopefully pull out the starting job by Aug. 31."

Another of Thomas' goals was realized Saturday night when he was awarded a full athletic scholarship, reward for three years of hard work as an unheralded walk-on. Now, the money Thomas was saving for his senior year tuition at UConn can be used for law school or an internship at a law firm.

UConn coach Randy Edsall said he was having dinner with Thomas recently, just a few days before he was set to officially announce that Thomas fellow walk-ons Graig Vicidomino of Seymour and Chris Pavasaris were elevated to full scholarship status.

He asked Thomas what his future plans were, and when Thomas told him about law school Edsall bit his tongue about the scholarship because he was planning to announce the news at a team meeting.

"(Thomas) said his two sisters graduated from (Virginia Commonwealth University), one is a pharmasist, the other is doing something else but they were both very successful," Edsall said. "His mom was saying he has to uphold the tradition in the family and be successful. It made me feel good. It's part of this business and it's a nice part to be around, especially when it's totally unexpected. He was very thankful."

Said Thomas, "It was great. It's what I've been looking for since I got here. I called to tell my parents and my mom was hysterical crying."

Thomas said he played football his freshman year at West Haven High, but was told he couldn't do that anymore since he was attending school at Career, which has no football program. Rather than transfer, he remained at Career and played basketball and baseball.

His four-year football sabbatical continued through his freshman year at UConn, when he attended a few games and was hit with the urge to play again. He made the team as a walk-on in 2004 and redshirted the season. Last fall, he played all 11 games on special teams, serving as a wedge buster. This summer, he's up to 295 pounds (35 pounds heavier than when he joined the program) and stronger than he's ever been.

"He's had a great summer, and is one of our strongest guys," Edsall said. "He's been a backup on the offensive line, but a key contributor on kickoffs. He was a big reason we were able to break some returns."


Blogger junglehusky said...

Thomas would join a tradition of football guys who went into law. Lots of NFL referees are lawyers. Well, he'll be making more money than me, that's for sure.

August 16, 2006 9:54 AM 
Blogger Fishy said...

Recruiting must be tough for Edsall if walk-ons are given free rides.

August 16, 2006 4:01 PM 
Blogger ThePrideOfConnecticut said...

Something's fishy about this 'fishy'...

August 16, 2006 6:39 PM 
Blogger NortheastOxymoron said...

It's 1-A football, 85 scholarships, not basketball. If giving available scholarships to recognize senior walk-ons that have contributed means recruiting is "tough", then it's tough for Edsall. It's not unusual at other 1-A schools, so recruiting must be "tough" for many 1-A programs. Poorly funded and private schools don't do it as often.

August 16, 2006 10:59 PM 
Blogger Vinny From East Haven said...

Maybe when Thomas graduates law school and passes the bar, he can start a practice in Storrs, specializing in defending all the criminals that the athletic department brings in to play sports.

August 17, 2006 8:08 AM 

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