Before ever taking his first snap, throwing his first touchdown pass or winning his first game at CSU, prized recruit Pete Thomas has won the hearts of Ram fans campus wide.
The 18-year-old quarterback committed to CSU on Dec. 21 and will now look to break a trend for a school that has cycled through three senior quarterbacks in as many years.
Thomas, who had previously committed to Arizona State over the summer, opted instead to sign with the Rams after several coaches were fired on the Sun Devil staff during the off season.
â€œI really felt like (ASU) was the place for me,â€ said Thomas, who is the 16th ranked pro-style quarterback prospect according to Rivals.com. â€œOnce they fired their coaches I realized what was really important, and thatâ€™s the coaches and the people you are playing with. I know CSU is the better opportunity for me.â€
The El Cajon, Calif., native boasts a huge arm to match his size, standing 6-foot-5 inches and weighing 220 pounds. However, it isnâ€™t his physical attributes alone that have garnered the esteem of the CSU coaching staff, but rather his willingness to do the little things off the field to get better.
â€œDuring his visits, he could care less whether we took him to the best steak house in town or to a McDonaldâ€™s, he just wanted to sit down and talk football,â€ said CSU quarterbacks coach Daren Wilkinson. â€œThatâ€™s where the great ones are made, the guys that want to put in the extra time to increase their knowledge of the game.â€
Thomas graduated from Valhalla High School a semester early with a 4.0 grade point average and is currently enrolled at CSU. After starting his prep career at linebacker, Thomas took the reigns under center for Valhalla midway through his freshman season.
In his junior and senior seasons, Thomas amassed 5,561 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, passing to go along with 12 rushing scores. He led his Norsemen to the section final at Qualcomm Stadium in his junior year and led the school to their first league championship in school history during his final season.
Thomas will not be the first Ram quarterback to hail from the San Diego area, joining Ram greats Moses Moreno (1995-97), Anthoney Hill (1992-94) and current head coach Steve Fairchild (1978-80).
Thomas now hopes to build on his high school success by becoming the first Rams quarterback to start more than two seasons since Bradlee Van Pelt did so in 2001-03.
â€œA guy that is able to play two, three or even four years as a starting quarterback,â€ Wilkinson said. â€œBy the time they are a junior or senior, that experience is valuable.â€
Thomas is the first four-star recruit to sign with the Rams since Tristan Walkerâ€™s commitment in 2002. And despite the massive hype and expectation surrounding his signing, Thomas remains grounded.
â€œIf Iâ€™m the best (quarterback) then Iâ€™ll be ready in the fall,â€ Thomas said. â€œIf not, Iâ€™m going to do whatever I can to help out the team and support whoever the starter is.â€
The commitment and early enrollment of Thomas led to the departure of fellow quarterback recruit Tyler Shreve, who instead committed with rival Utah just weeks after Thomasâ€™ arrival.
Though students may not yet recognize him on campus yet, his days as an anonymous underclassmen are dwindling, as he begins preparation toward becoming the next Rams legend.
Sports writer Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.