It started with a scare and ended with jubilation, but West Virginia linebacker J.T. Thomas still heard his name called during day three of the NFL Draft.
Thomas, a three-year starter for West Virginia, was selected in the sixth round by the Chicago Bears.
But as Thomas explained on Sportsline last night, it wasn’t the first time the senior saw his face during the draft coverage. Earlier that day, the Dallas Cowboys selected defensive back Josh Thomas from the University of Buffalo in the fifth round, but J.T.’s headshot was mistakenly used for the pick.
“The whole house went crazy. The whole house erupted. Everybody was crying and happy and I’m sitting there saying ‘Wait, I haven’t received a phone call.’” Thomas recalled. “And it turned out it was a mistake. Now I’m sitting around going ‘Geez, now what if I don’t get drafted?’”
Stunned, Thomas and his family waited once again. One round later, though, the correct team picked Thomas. A team that Thomas felt wanted him all along.
“It was really breathtaking. I didn’t know how to feel. I thought I would cry, but I didn’t,” Thomas said on getting the phone call from Bears head coach Lovie Smith. “It was just hard to believe that something I had worked for all my life was coming true.”
For now, Thomas will be continuing to work out and get in shape until the lockout ends. At that point, he will finally be able to join his teammates in the Windy City.
Once he’s there, Thomas will be in good company with veteran linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs in front of him.
“I’m just sitting here rubbing my hands together thinking there’s so much I can learn from those guys,” Thomas fantasized. “Hopefully I can learn a lot of things from him [Urlacher], the same way at West Virginia where I learned a lot from the guys before me.”
Thomas isn’t sure in what capacity he will contribute to the Bears’ notoriously good defense. There’s a good chance he’ll end up on special teams, but whatever Chicago needs, Thomas is willing to accommodate.
“I can tell you this: I’ll be available to do any and everything to contribute to the team. I’m not sure what the role will be, but I’m up for the challenge, whatever the challenge may be.”