The first time around the goal was to get to the next level: the NFL.
That mission was accomplished. But something was left unfinished.
On the verge of turning 38 years old, Lamar Thomas has decided to step back into the college scene – not as an athlete, but as a student.
Thomas is looking to fulfill an obligation to a loved one.
“I promised my grandmother that I would get my degree,” Thomas said. “I wish I could have got it back then, but now I am going to get it. To finally see her with a smile on her face will be really special to me.”
Thomas didn’t receive his degree when he was here in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Now, he’s back in full force.
Perhaps best known for his comments made during the Miami-FIU football brawl in 2006,Thomas was an exceptional athlete for the Hurricanes, setting a then-school record of all time career receptions and is second in touchdown receptions. He also captured a pair of National Championships in 1989 and 1991.
Thomas was a third round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and spent six seasons in the NFL, three with the Bucs and three with the Miami Dolphins.
Now, Thomas is a humbled student back on campus, searching for his liberal arts degree.
“[UM] has always been a beautiful campus. It is great to be back,” said Thomas. “To be in class, it feels like a whole different atmosphere. I really enjoy being in class.”
The first time around, Thomas didn’t know exactly what to expect from college, which caused for some indecision.
“When I first came here I changed my major like a thousands times,” Thomas said. “I wanted to become an accountant. That happens so much with people switching majors. Things have definitely changed.”
Thomas is becoming accustomed to being just like any other college student, even by joining social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook, something that wasn’t around during his first excursion in college.
“Technology has really changed since I had been in school. Really, my brother got me into Facebook,” Thomas said. “Facebook is a great way for me to network. I am able to talk to my old buddies that I haven’t talked to for a while.”
Besides being a student, Thomas is also an employee for the university, working for the Hurricane Club. This semester, Thomas has been spending majority of his time at the men’s basketball games. Even at basketball games, students rag on Thomas.
“I had my blazer on, looking all professional. I just got teased for [wearing] it.”
The teasing doesn’t stop there.
“Someone called me grandpa [around campus],” Thomas said, laughing. “It is funny. Most of the college students are half my age. I ask myself, ‘How can I relate to them, I’m 38?'”
Despite the jabs, Thomas views his second time around, and the life lessons that came in between, as a blessing, not a curse.
“I am way more mature now,” Thomas said. “In life, as you get older and experience more than the better, you understand something. You don’t realize that how important it is to go to class until you’re older. Now, I enjoy going to class and learning.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.