Nick Thomas hasn’t started his Canadian Football League career, but he has already has an interesting story to tell.
On Tuesday, the linebacker was selected by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the seventh round of the 2023 CFL Draft with the 60th overall selection.
Thomas told Michael Ball during Thursday’s edition of The SportsCage that he plays the game at an accelerated pace.
“I think I got good closing speed.”
He added, “I can play fast, and you know that’s what you got to do in the CFL, you got to work hard and play fast.”
Roughriders General Manager and Vice-President of Football Operations Jeremy O’Day noted on Tuesday they were impressed with the linebacker’s speed and tackling.
Thomas had a late start to football, as he did not start playing the sport until he was in Grade 12. Before getting involved in the gridiron sport, the Surrey B.C. product played rugby. After being encouraged by a friend, he elected to try out for the football team and made an immediate impact when he de-cleated the team’s star running back.
He said there are a lot of skills that he can use from rugby with it being a longer-paced sport compared to football.
Athletics were not the only thing on Thomas’s mind during high school. When he was in Grade 10, Thomas and his sister began living on their own in a basement suite. He felt that he acquired plenty of life skills during that time.
“It was very challenging,” said Thomas. “Learnt a lot about life.”
Some of the skills he acquired during that time were tasks including managing bills and laundry.
Following high school, Thomas spent time with the Langley Stampeders while improving his grades so he could participate at the university level. It’s there where he would catch the eye of University Manitoba Head Coach Brian Dobie. He noted Dobie raved about Thomas’ highlight tape.
Besides helping him on the field, Thomas said Dobie provided the extra support he needed to achieve his academic goals.
“I needed that push at that time.”
He added, “I kind of needed someone to guide me.”
The 2021 season was Thomas best campaign as a Bison. He was named an All-Canadian with a career-high 50 tackles, along with 1.5 sacks, two pass knockdowns and a forced fumble.
Last year, the linebacker suffered a Lisfranc injury that limited him to only two games during the season. After months of rehabilitation, Thomas has now fully recovered from the injury.
After spending the last four years playing at IG Field in Winnipeg, the former Bison is ready to convert his allegiances in the rivalry between the green and white against the blue and gold.
“I was driving up to the stadium (IG Field) and I was getting mad (laughter). ”
On Wednesday, the Roughriders will open up rookie camp in Saskatoon.