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Mitchell Thomas: Linebacker came to Irish as coveted prospect

Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, November 17, 2006

For Mitchell Thomas, sports are life.

Thomas excelled in every sport he tried in high school. He was a two-time letter winner in basketball and track to go with football, as well as being named captain to all three of those teams in Smiths Station High School in Smiths, Ala.

“I grew up in the country, went to a city school,” Thomas said. “That was my life – sports. I did that year round.”

In order to do be that involved, Thomas relied heavily on his parents for support. He credits them for developing Thomas as an athlete if for no other reason than they helped him make the games.

“[My parents] had to drop me off, pick me up,” he said. “My sister was in the band – she’s a year younger than me – so they’d have to drop her off, come back and get me, back and forth.”

One of the most important games Thomas played in was not even on the football field, but on the track.

“My junior year we had a [4X400] team that was fourth in the state that was going against supposedly the number one [4X400] team in our state. And we went against them and beat them,” Thomas said. “That was the best sports moment I had.”

But the sport Thomas truly excelled in was football, where he made 70 tackles and rushed for over 500 yards in five game his senior year before sidelined with an injury. Despite not playing most of his senior year, Thomas was still named to the all-state team and was a sought-after recruit coming out of Smiths Station.

During his senior season, Thomas’ top three schools were Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame.

“After the coaches left Alabama, [Notre Dame] was my best choice,” he said of his decision in choosing Notre Dame. “I think it was just a good balance of academics and athletics.”

After joining the Irish, Thomas began to expand his interests beyond sports into the classroom, where he began pursuing a management consulting degree.

“[After football] I plan to try going to [into the] consulting field, see how that turns out, see if I like it. If not, I’ll try [to] find something I like,” he said.

Even with the classroom load, Thomas still had a passion for football. He had to wait to play, however, and got the chance to start at the beginning of this season against Georgia Tech.

Because he redshirted his freshman year at Notre Dame, Thomas still has the option to return for a fifth year, although he does not yet know whether or not he will. Even if Thomas does come back, he is unsure of his future – and whether it will include football

“If I do come back, it’ll depend on what kind of year I have. I might try the NFL, but I might just get a job and get on with my life.”