Darien Thomas – Wide Receiver – Senior – Belhaven
Alex Khvatov: What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?
Darien Thomas: 6’2, 200 and 4.49.
Alex Khvatov: Coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in you?
Darien Thomas: I was committed to Kentucky. Then I decommitted and decided to go to Southern Miss. I had some immaturity problems at that time and I ended up not going to Southern Miss. I ended up going to Benedict College, which is a D-II program in South Carolina. I played my freshman year and then I missed a season. I left Benedict College and sat out a semester. I went back to school after my mom passed away in 2013. I joined Belhaven in the fall of 2013.
Alex Khvatov: Why did you choose Belhaven?
Darien Thomas: Actually I stopped playing ball, and nobody was showing interest. No one tried to help me. My mom passed away, and it motivated me to get back on the field. I hadn’t played ball since 2011-2012 season as a freshman. Belhaven looked me up and showed interest.
Alex Khvatov: Describe your career at Belhaven.
Darien Thomas: As a team, our record wasn’t so good. We had a new head coach coming in and new players. We didn’t have the chemistry. We were trying to find an identity. I wanted to be a leader on the team. I was a vocal leader, and it is what the team needed. I played in an offense under Hal Mumme. I am the all-time leader in TD’s at the school. I set the record for most TD’s at the school in a single game. I am 4th all-time in career yards at the school. I left my legacy there.
Alex Khvatov: What was the biggest thing that you learned under your head coach Hal Mumme?
Darien Thomas: Bobby Blizzard was my WR’s coach. He has been with Coach Mumme for a long time. He has had a huge impact on my life. He got invited to NFL coaching academy. He is a great coach. He helped me a great deal. Coach Mumme challenged me mentally. He prepared me for life. He is a hard-nosed coach. He helped me for those three years.
Alex Khvatov: What are your strengths?
Darien Thomas: I have good ball skills and good speed. I try to mold my game like Julio Jones. I am 6’2 and 200. I play physical and fast. I am big and aggressive.
Alex Khvatov: What areas of your game are you trying to improve upon?
Darien Thomas: My whole game. You can’t be complacent, so I am working on everything.
Alex Khvatov: Where are you currently training?
Darien Thomas: I am training at home in Mobile, Alabama at Fitness Lab.
Alex Khvatov: How would you describe your experience at the 2017 Tropical Bowl all-star game?
Darien Thomas: The Tropical Bowl was a great experience. I was coming from a small school. I was the only D-III player there. I proved that I belong with the best.
Alex Khvatov: What is the biggest thing that you took away from that all-star weekend?
Darien Thomas: I love competition. It was great to go against the bigger school players. I played on the bigger stage. It felt good to be out there.
Alex Khvatov: What type of feedback did you receive from scouts?
Darien Thomas: I talked to a lot of NFL teams and a few CFL teams. I wasn’t on their board. My extra effort stood out. I showed that I could run. Nobody really knew who I was. I was able to make a name for myself.
Alex Khvatov: Tell me about your experience at the FCS Bowl.
Darien Thomas: That game was a lot of fun. I played against a lot of FCS guys. I dominated that game. I flew around. I had some good feedback and some interviews. I caught a TD and a few catches in the game. I made some big plays. I helped myself.
Alex Khvatov: What is the highlight of your career up to this point?
Darien Thomas: The last game I played. I had six catches for 120 yards and four TD’s against Howard Payne. That was a highlight. I left my mark.
Alex Khvatov: Who is your favorite NFL player?
Darien Thomas: Julio Jones. I am a die-hard fan. That is the first receiver I have seen on TV.
Alex Khvatov: What is the most important trait for a WR?
Darien Thomas: Be aggressive. You have to have the motor. I am a big effort guy. You can’t coach effort.
Alex Khvatov: Where does that mentality in regards to effort come from?
Darien Thomas: I grew up. I was immature when I was younger. I lost my mom and football. It humbled me. It made me grow up. I became a better student, a better athlete and a better man. The losses in my life helped me grow and mature. I was misguided when I was younger.
Alex Khvatov: What players on your team should we keep an eye on for next season?
Darien Thomas: Our QB Hunter McEachern will be a sophomore next year. He threw for a crazy number of yards. He has a big-time arm. He had a huge freshman year. Jacob McNeill and Nolan Satcher are the receivers to watch next year. A guy on defense is DB Maurice Stewart.
Alex Khvatov: Who is the best player that you have faced during your career?
Darien Thomas: His name was Rob Porter from Jackson State. He was a corner.
Alex Khvatov: What do you enjoy most about football?
Darien Thomas: It has been my lifestyle for so long. I want to be able to provide for my family. The game means everything to me.
Alex Khvatov: What are your hobbies?
Darien Thomas: Working out. I have a daughter and a girlfriend who I love spending time with.
Alex Khvatov: How has fatherhood affected your life?
Darien Thomas: I became a father at age 17. I had to grow up faster that most people. I sacrificed a lot of things. It made me grow up. I had no choice. I had responsibilities. It helped me. It made me a strong man.
Alex Khvatov: What do you want to do with your life after your football career is over?
Darien Thomas: I want to have my own business. I also want to give back to the community.
Alex Khvatov: What is the biggest life lesson that you have learned thus far?
Darien Thomas: Take advantage of every day. There are not too many tomorrows.
Alex Khvatov: Finish the sentence, Darien Thomas is….
Darien Thomas: An underrated NFL prospect. I am hard working and ambitious.