David Thomas: Valued influence
Integrity. Serving. Teamwork. Excellence. These are the values presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that tries to impact the world through the influence of athletes and coaches.
At a breakfast on Saturday morning as a part of the Rose Bowl festivities, a perfect example of those values shared his experiences with a full house made up of fellow athletes and coaches, both collegiate and scholastic. That example was Texas tight end David Thomas.
"David Thomas is not only a great representative for The University of Texas, but he is a great representative for student-athletes and Christians across the country," explained Texas head coach Mack Brown. "His message about being secure in who he is can definitely help other people and other kids."
"David is a great person, who just so happens to be a very, very good athlete," said Thomas' position coach Bruce Chambers. "My wife and I don't have any kids, but if we did, we would want them to be just like David Thomas."
Most Texas fans know about Thomas' exploits on the field. He is currently at the top of UT's all-time tight ends list in receptions, yards and touchdowns. But what most people don't know are his efforts in the classroom and in the community.
Thomas is a first-team Academic All-Big 12 performer and was a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, which is widely considered the academic Heisman Trophy. He was also a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is awarded to a student-athlete who excels academically, athletically and in community service.
On top of that, Thomas is also very respectful of the past and always points to those who came before him and gave him the opportunity to excel. That is why he was thrilled at the opportunity to dine with former Texas tight end Pat Fitzgerald, the man who Thomas passed in rewriting the Longhorns record book, earlier this season.
"I remember watching Pat when I was young and getting to meet someone that I looked up to was really special," said Thomas. "He told me that he was really proud that I was able to break the records, and that he was happy for me."
"It was great to meet David after hearing so much about him and watching him play the past few years," stated Fitzgerald, whose play from 1994-96 inspired the creation of a tight ends section in the Longhorns' record book. "He is a humble and hard-working guy and quite deserving of his success and accolades."
The success Thomas has attained both on the field and off is a direct result of the effort he has put into both areas. On a team full of stars, he is admired for the type of person he is by the most important group -- his teammates.
"David is the kind of guy who will always do his job," said linebacker Robert Killebrew. "Whenever he is called upon, he steps up to the plate and represents us in a classy way."
Normally, Thomas' jobs involves catching passes, executing blocks or making the grade in the classroom, but aside from high school and middle school appearances, public speaking has not been one of them.
"I always get nervous before speaking, and people ask me why, because I've played in front of so many people," Thomas said, "but I always tell them, on the football field, you can hide behind your helmet. (Speaking) is a different feeling."
But, Thomas didn't let his opportunity at the FCA breakfast be a worry. Instead, he looked at it as a chance to inspire someone.
"It really is special to me because I was never asked to do something like that before," added Thomas. "For me to be able to share some words with people is great and hopefully I can have a positive impact."
So how did he do?
"He did a great job and had an unbelievable story," said wide receiver Quan Cosby. "Once he got up there, the words flowed freely and his story had to be a motivator for all the kids in the room."
No surprise, Thomas produced when called upon. He always seems to, thanks to his integrity, service, teamwork and excellence.