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We finally get to do the interview and he seems vey excited to tell his story. His excitement for his future is evident and his charisma signifies that he is prepared for the moment.
Naiquan Thomas, 6’1″ and 212 lbs, is a senior strong safety at Fairmont State University. He was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey. The eldest of his siblings, Thomas holds a major responsibility of setting the example by finishing school and not quitting on his dreams.
Thomas got introduced to football from the neighborhood. “Kids play in the street and just from playing so much in the streets, you start to love it and it becomes second nature,” stated Thomas. He’s been playing organized football since he was eight years old and never looked back.
Displaying his athleticism throughout high school, Thomas played running back and quarterback but he fell in love with defense. “I always like contact so once I got to college, my size was more fit for defense.”
“Kids play in the street and just from playing so much in the streets, you start to love it and it becomes second nature,”
The athletic senior possesses quickness and a nose for the ball. His ability to cause turnovers and make sure tackles compliments his awareness. “My greatest attributes are tackling and my range in covering the field,” mentioned Thomas. “I’m not the fastest but I can cover ground.” He believes his football IQ is what separates him from others at his position.
Not only does he inherit all of these attributes but his favorite player is the golden standard for all of the attributes Thomas has. “My favorite player is [Arizona Cardinals safety] Tyrann Mathieu. After he made the mistakes [off the field], no one wanted to draft him and no one really gave him a chance, but when he got that chance, he balled out still,” stated Thomas.
The player that most of his coaches say he plays like is Kam Chancellor, safety from the Seattle Seahawks. They compare him to Chancellor because of his big hits and his play making ability. “We’re both physical safeties, lay the boom and great tacklers,” said Thomas.
“I always like contact so once I got to college, my size was more fit for defense.”
Nothing was more evident he was a natural football player than on his first play as a college football player. “It was during the opening kickoff and I was the first man down there and I collided with the returner and we both flew back,” remembers Thomas. “I hear the crowd go wild and I thought I just got trucked until I got up and he was still lying on the ground. He ended up being out for the season.”
Thomas led the team with four interceptions displaying his ball skills.
Although his love for the game kept him involved with football, that wasn’t the only reason football was dear to him. “The biggest adversity coming up was struggling growing up,” remembered Thomas.
The senior safety remembers not being able to get everything he wanted. “Football was basically that place where you could get away from everything,” stated Thomas.
“I hear the crowd go wild and I thought I just got trucked until I got up and he was still lying on the ground. He ended up being out for the season.”
Another hurdle in Thomas’ path was dealing with disappointment in college. Thomas was a grooming star in the making at Rhode Island University until an unfortunate situation happened. There was an incident that happen to one of his teammates and Thomas was basically at the wrong place at the wrong time and was removed from the football team.
“I was like man, what am I going to do now. I have to start hitting up coaches again and possibly move to a lower division,” said Thomas. After hitting a low point, the athletic junior decided to take it as a lesson and “put it in God hands.” Looking at it as a way to make himself stronger, he kept his head high and geared his focus on getting back on track.
“I didn’t make this one mistake to determine my future in a bad way, I remained focused and eventually got into another school,” mentioned Thomas.
Through out all of this, it was one person that Thomas leaned on and always had the support of. “My mother has always been supportive. Even when I had to tell her about being expelled from school, she was upset but she still motivated me to get back in school,” stated Thomas.
Because of her sacrifice that allowed him to be in a position to play Division I football, Thomas has one important priority. “When I make it, I can make sure that she doesn’t have to want and go through the same anymore.”
Thomas has already made important steps towards that goal by being invited to play in the FCS Bowl, an All-Star game for the top Division II and III college players. Thomas ended up showing why he was invited by getting an interception and a tackle during the game.
This is just one stepping stone towards his football goals. “A lot of people get the chance but don’t make it and I want to beat the odds by doing both, get the opportunity and make it,” said Thomas. His goal is to make it professionally whether the CFL or NFL.