A Washington High School football player with the last name of Thomas has dreams – however unrealistic they may seem at the time – of playing college football, buckles down as a senior, then earns a scholarship.
Sound familiar? It should.
First Bryan Thomas, from Wash High to Bowling Green. Now younger brother Rhamir, who found success as a linebacker this past season, his first as a starter, and as a result earned a partial scholarship to Youngstown State University.
“I would say that his story is just like mine – started taking it more serious, trying to become better, just a better football player and trying to play at the next level,” said Bryan Thomas, who had 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks at defensive end for Bowling Green this past fall. “Trying to do anything you can do to do that.”
While every Shai McKenzie scholarship offer brings more and more attention, Thomas’ commitment was much more subtle, a choice between Youngstown State, Notre Dame (Ohio) College and California University.
“I was thinking about going there before football,” Thomas said of Youngstown State. “I was going to go there for school. Then when they started recruiting me, it was even better.”
Rhamir Thomas was a freshman when current Prexies coach Mike Bosnic took over in 2009, the same year Bryan Thomas was a senior.
For Bosnic, the comparison absolutely fits.
“It took a little bit of time for (Rhamir) to mature into his body,” Bosnic said. “I wasn’t terribly shocked by that because I had coached Bryan, and Bryan, in a lot of ways, was very similar. He was a late bloomer.”
Not just with football, either.
Rhamir Thomas struggled with bouts of immaturity early on his career – lack of focus, discipline issues. He always did OK in school, but when it came to football, he never took it too seriously.
Until this year.
After the final game of his junior season, Thomas was fed up. No more special teams; he wanted to start.
So over the offseason, Thomas worked on his agility and changed positions from defensive line to linebacker, keeping his weight around 200 pounds, just toning and sculpting what his 6-2 frame already had.
He saddled up next to Jaylin Kelly and learned all he could about hand placement and footwork. He became more of a leader.
“I’m really proud of the way he stuck with it,” Bosnic said. “He really matured – not only into a great football player, but he’s becoming a really good person, too.
“He’s become a leader in school and a good student.”
Thomas had 94 tackles, three sacks, one interception and three fumble recoveries last season, teaming with Kelly to anchor a defense that allowed 12.2 points per game.
In the WPIAL Class AA final at Heinz Field, Thomas made eight tackles, three of them solo, and also recovered two fumbles during a 34-7 loss to Aliquippa.
Thomas benches 260 pounds and runs a 4.7-second 40-yard dash – OK numbers, sure, but ones that will surely improve considering he’s only recently tapped into his potential.
“I know I could do better,” Thomas said. “I wish I had another year at linebacker. I could’ve done more.”
For now, though, Thomas has done plenty.
Even though the man who set the blueprint for him couldn’t pick out exactly why.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Bryan Thomas said. “Sometimes it just happens for you. I felt like he realized one day he knows he needs to do something, and he did. He pursued the goal that he set.”