Being Drafted by the Cowboys is a Dream Come True for Thomas
BUFFALO, NY – When Josh Thomas' phone rang on Saturday afternoon he couldn't believe who was calling. "This is Jerry Jones," the voice on the other end said. There was a long pause. "Josh…are you there," Jones asked. "Are YOU there," Thomas responded in disbelief. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, the team Thomas has grown up spending every Sunday rooting for, was calling to say they were drafting him.
The Cedar Hill, TX native was drafted in the fifth round with the 143rd overall pick. Since 1969, Ed Ellis (125th pick in 1997) is the only other UB player selected sooner. A mainstay in Buffalo's dominant defensive backfield, Thomas had 58 tackles (30 solo), two sacks and an interception his senior season. His eight pass breakups ranked second on the team.
UB head coach Jeff Quinn wasn't surprised Thomas was drafted. "Every day at practice we had an NFL team representative watching JT and a number of other seniors," Quinn said. "I knew there was a lot of interest in JT. This is a very passionate and competitive young man."
The selection of Thomas continues a trend in recent NFL Drafts. After having only one player drafted over the first eight years since returning to the Division I-A ranks in 1999, Thomas became the fourth UB player drafted in the past four NFL Drafts. Trevor Scott (Oakland Raiders) and Jamey Richard (Indianapolis Colts) were selected in 2008. The Green Bay Packers drafted James Starks in 2010.
One of the first calls Thomas received upon hearing the news was from former teammate Starks. The Bulls' all-time leading rusher and Packers running back is already looking forward to going up against his former teammate. "He told me he was going to run me over," Thomas jokingly said of Starks. "I said okay. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Thomas becomes the seventh UB player to appear on a current NFL roster. Scott is a defensive end with the Oakland Raiders. Richard (guard/center) and Mike Newton (safety) are with the Indianapolis Colts. Starks is a running back for the Green Bay Packers. Naaman Roosevelt is a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Quarterback Drew Willy is with the New York Jets.
The drafting of Thomas and the presence of UB players in the NFL gain even more exposure to the UB football program - a point not lost on Quinn. "It helps us tremendously. All of our coaches are out right now in spring recruiting. They know about JT, they know about UB and Starks and Super Bowls. That's what this is all about. Giving these young men a chance and an opportunity," Quinn said.
With the current NFL labor dispute, it is unknown as to when Thomas will join his new team. He is eager to prove the Cowboys made the right choice. "I'm ready to play right now," Thomas said. "I have so much to prove. I can't wait for the first day of practice."
The labor dispute may give Thomas a little more time to come down from cloud nine and soak in everything that has happened to him over the past few days. "It still feels like a big dream, Thomas said. "It is America's team and they want me to play for them. I can't be more grateful."
Click here for video of Tuesday's press conference with Josh Thomas.