Continuing on with our 100 day countdown to WVU’s season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide, we have reached day 30, the number once worn by WVU linebacker, J.T. Thomas.
Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Thomas was a five-year member of the WVU football program, from 2006 to 2010. During that time span, Thomas made 51 career appearances (35 starts) for the Mountaineers, and recorded 235 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions. He appeared in four bowl games during his career, and was a two-time, first team all-Big East selection (2009 and 2010).
As a true freshman, Thomas appeared in just three games for the Mountaineers, recording just three tackles in those appearances. He returned to the team in 2007 as a redshirt freshman where he appeared in nine of the team’s 13 games in mostly special teams, and substitution roles for the Mountaineers. Thomas recorded 19 tackles, and three sacks to help the team finish with an 11-2 record, and a thrilling victory over #3 Oklahoma in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The following season, Thomas became a full-time starter for West Virginia at linebacker. As a redshirt sophomore, Thomas recorded 65 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles to help the team finish 9-4 overall after they defeated North Carolina 31-30 in the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl. The postseason victory over the Tar Heels gave the school its fourth bowl win in a row, a new school record.
As a junior, the 6’2” 225 pound defensive stalwart only got better as he gained experience in the program. He recorded a career-high 76 tackles, two interceptions, and half a sack during the 2009 campaign which saw the squad finish the regular season with a record of 9-3 overall to earn a bid to the 2010 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl. It was the school’s sixth appearance in a New Year’s Day bowl game in a span of seven seasons.
The Mountaineers went on to lose their postseason game to the Florida State Seminoles 33-21. The game was historically significant as it was the final game for then-FSU head coach, Bobby Bowden, in his illustrious 55 year coaching career. Thomas, however, was a first team, all-Big East selection at the conclusion of the 2009 campaign.
To finish out his great Mountaineer career, Thomas recorded 73 tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles to help the school earn its first share of a Big East title in two seasons. The Mountaineers, however, lost out on a BCS bowl bid due to the UConn Huskies owning the tie-breaker by virtue of a 16-13 overtime victory over the old Gold and Blue in late October of the 2010 season. None the less, the Mountaineers earned a bid to play in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl where they would fall to Russell Wilson and the North Carolina State Wolf Pack 23-7 to finish out the campaign 9-4 overall. For his efforts that season, Thomas once again earned first team, all-Big East honors.
Following his graduation from West Virginia University in 2010, J.T. Thomas went on to pursue a career in professional football. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears. So far in his NFL career, Thomas has spent time with two different teams (the Bears, and the Jacksonville Jaguars), where he has appeared in 31 career games, and has recorded 23 tackles, and a forced fumble. Entering the 2014 NFL season, Thomas is currently with the Jaguars after being signed by the organization off waivers in September of 2013.
All countdown profiles of numbers 100-31 are still available here at WVUPros.com