SOUTHERN MISS's ADALIUS THOMAS
Adalius Thomas’ outstanding work ethic, talent and good common since makes him an emerging top pro prospect as a defensive end.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1998
Charlie Dudley, Southern Mississippi's strength coach, loves Adalius Thomas who is emerging as a top pro prospect as a defensive end. “Adalius is a strength coach's dream,” said Coach Dudley.
Here is why Coach Dudley feels this way about Adalius or A.D. as he is known by his friends. “Follow your dream,” advises A.D. “It's not where you're from, it's where you are going. Be obedient to your parents and elders. God gave you two ears and one mouth. You know why?
“You should listen twice as much as you speak,” came A.D.'s answer. Good advice for me.
Coach Dudley praised, “A.D. has tremendous athletic ability combined with an incredible desire to excel. He always goes above and beyond what I ask. A.D. is a great leader. He sets the example by his actions with a work ethic that is unparalleled. Adalius Thomas will be successful in life in whatever he does.”
A.D. believes that it takes self discipline and determination to be successful. “You must have the ability to cope with obstacles or problems that come up,” said Adalius. “Many things can distract you from what you are supposed to do. You have to find something you love to do and have fun with. Great success also depends on your ability to communicate and speak with a command of the English language.”
A.D. never missed a class in high school. “I accepted my responsibility of being on time to class and with my assignments,” said A.D. This personal commitment carried over to Southern Mississippi. A.D.'s GPA is around a 3.0 and because of summer school classes, he should graduate before his senior year of eligibility.
“I plan to work on a Masters in math my last year,” said A.D. regarding his future. If the opportunity for a career in pro football comes, A.D. will take it but after that, he would like to be a coach at the high school or college level. A.D. is not as concerned about money as he is about making wise choices. “ If you are happy and love what you are doing, money does not matter. Coaching is what I would love to do.”
Adalius attended Central Coosa County High School and not only was he outstanding in football but was also the Alabama 4-A Basketball Player of the Year. In addition to that, he was a state high jump qualifier and ran a 10.7 100 meter at 6-2, 220 pounds.
Being only 6-2, A.D. decided to make football his college sport instead of basketball. However, he did not have colleges beating down his door. Both Auburn and Alabama were not interested. Southern Mississippi was his early choice. “ I did not want to be left out in the cold,” remembered Adalius.
“I did not really know how good I was. God has blessed me with athleticism and natural talent. My responsibility is to build on that. I need to take care of my body, to work hard, to do what my coaches tell me to do and to be the best person I can be both on and off the field. I feel fortunate that so many people have helped me get better.
“I have always taken care of business in school because if you don't, sports won't be there. I believe sacrifice is part of being and doing your best.”
Adalius arrived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1995 where he took a red shirt year. The University of Southern Mississippi is located on a picturesque 1,090-acre wooded campus. It lies 90 miles south of the state capital of Jackson and 105 miles northeast of New Orleans. The on-campus enrollment is about 13,000 students representing most states and 60 foreign countries. The University offers 67 bachelor's degree programs and 48 master's degree programs.
In 1996, Adalius was named to the Sporting News Freshman All-America team as well as the Conference USA All-Freshman team. Last year as a sophomore, he came within one sack of tying the school single-season record with nine sacks. His great leaping ability helped A.D. knock down 10 passes at the line of scrimmage. He also led the conference in tackles. In the Liberty Bowl victory, A.D. was named as Defensive Player of the game. This great season culminated in being also selected to the first team Conference USA Defense.
This year Adalius Thomas received some early recognition by being named to several pre-season All-American teams. During this past year, A.D. worked hard to continue to improve. He gained a little weight but lost some fat. His Bench improved from 330 to 375 pounds, the Parallel Squat from 400 to 490 and his Power Clean went from 275 to 315 pounds. This increase in power and strength also manifested itself in a vertical jump improvement from 36 inches to 39.5 inches. His standing long jump also improved from 9' 8” to 10' 1” feet.
Adalius improved his flexibility and with his speed and power increases, this combined improvement was the reason his 40-speed came down from 4.72 to 4.60, 20-speed from 2.74 to 2.58 and his pro-shuttle time from 4.68 to 4.48.
Adalius takes football and life seriously. He looked me in the eye, “I have never used drugs in my entire life. My father taught me about the harmful effects of drugs. I have seen what drugs have done to others. Peer pressure is only the pressure you put on yourself. You must be strong with no doubt. Say ‘no' like you are sure of yourself then people will let you alone. If you sound weak, they will keep on you. When I have kids, I want to be able to look them in the eye and say that I have never done drugs. I feel a deep responsibility to be a positive role model.
“I also believe that without God there is no me or you. I believe in God 100 percent. I'm not as good as I should be but I'm better than I used to be. I like the ten commandments. If you keep them, then everything else falls into place.”
We thank Coach Dudley and Coach Bowers. The University of Southern Mississippi is on the rise. With players like Adalius it is easy to understand. We thank Adalius for his great example. He is playing his song. His light is shining brightly.
The University of Southern Mississippi football is on the rise. USM clinched a winning season in1994 with a thrilling season ending victory at LSU and the 1995 team posted consecutive road wins for another winning season. Then in 1996, Coach Jeff Bower guided his Golden Eagles to an 8-3 record and a share of the brand new Conference USA Championship. Last year, USM finished in sole possession of the Conference USA Crown, defeated Pittsburgh 41-7 in the Liberty Bowl and had a final national ranking of No. 19 in both polls.
Coach Bower stated, “ I think we've improved a lot. We are getting kids like Adalius who want to work hard, want to get a good education, want to win and want to be unselfish. We have a solid nucleus of players who represent our University in a first class way.
“There are only five programs in Division I-A who finished in the top 20 in football who are also in the top 20 in graduation rates. The University of Southern Mississippi is one of those teams. I think that says a lot about our program and where it is.”
The Golden Eagles field teams in 16 intercollegiate sports. Roberts Stadium (football) seats 33,000 and Reed Green Coliseum seats more than 8,000. New facilities are in the works which include construction of a brand new field house and strength/conditioning facility.
“It is something that is long, long overdue,” said Coach Bower, “and we're finally able to do it. It will especially help us from a recruiting stand point; it is going to make us much more competitive.”
Coach Bower was also a great player and set many passing records at Southern Mississippi. Most of those records are now broken. Bower coached Brett Farve (1987-90) and Reggie Collier (1979-82) who were two QB's who broke his records. However, he still holds the USM career mark for completion percentage with a .549 mark.
The formation of Conference USA has been a good move for Southern Mississippi. Original members include: University of Alaba