Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thomas picks Robert Morris University

AMHERST — When a 155-pound Marty Thomas began playing varsity football at Amherst, his coaches told him he was too small to play linebacker.

A school-record 312 tackles later, Thomas signed his National Letter of Intent to play that same position at Robert Morris University in a ceremony at Amherst High School on Monday.

Though it frustrated him at the time, the coaches that told him he couldn’t do it were the ones Thomas thanked the most as he signed his letter.

"I just used that as fuel every day go out there to practice and work my tail off in order to prove to them that I could do it." Thomas said. "Even though they shot me down at first they gave me a lot of inspiration."

Thomas has been All-Ohio the past two seasons and anchored a stingy Amherst defense as one of the best inside linebackers in the state of Ohio.

He made 136 tackles in 2009 which was good for second-most in Division I despite only playing 10 games and followed that by leading the division in tackles in 2010 with 151 in 10 games, something he’ll always remember fondly.

"It’s the greatest feeling I’ve had in my whole life," Thomas said. "Looking back on it I really enjoyed playing football at Amherst. I’m really looking forward to trying to make an impact in college."

As he signed his letter in front of his family, teammates and coaches, Thomas was praised by both athletic director Ron Hause and defensive coordinator Chad DiFranco.

"As a high school football coach, this is what we want for everybody," DiFranco said. "To see him go on makes me very, very proud. All of us who’ve had a chance to work with Marty couldn’t be happier for him and his family."

Robert Morris made a good impression early on Thomas from both a campus and academic standpoint to a football standpoint as Thomas will likely remain at linebacker where he wants to play.

"I just loved the whole feeling of the college. Right when I went there I decided, ‘This was the place for me,’" Thomas said. "I’m just looking forward to making an impact there."

Though he’s not sure if he’ll red shirt or get in right away, Thomas is ready to get started and do whatever it takes to get on the field.

"Hopefully I can get in on special teams and see what happens from there," Thomas said. "Right now there’s no specific plan. I’ll just figure it out when it happens."

Thomas, who will likely study sports management at RMU, said he has wanted to play college football since he began playing as a kid and pretty much never had any doubt he would do it.

"I saw that it was a possibility the second I started playing," Thomas said. "I never took no for an answer. It’s what I wanted to do so I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that I couldn’t."

Thomas said working with trainer Mark Valenti of Cleveland Ave. Ludus helped his game quite a bit as he gained plenty of size and quickness over the past two years.

"I wouldn’t have gotten as strong or as fast or as big as I did if it wasn’t for him," Thomas said.

In Thomas’ Amherst career, the Comets were 23-7 and continually boasted one of the county’s best defenses.

He recorded 19 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and an interception over the past two seasons.

Thomas was named first team All-District, first team All-SWC, first team All-County, first team All Morning Journal and Amherst’s best team linebacker in each of the last two seasons. In 2010 he was the team’s defensive MVP and a team captain and earned his third varsity letter.

courtesy of Colin Wilson

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