Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

December 30, 2009

WVU Bowl coverage: J.T. Thomas, Gator notebook

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — West Virginia linebacker J.T. Thomas grew up a Florida State fan.

And he makes no bones about it.

But when it came to picking a school, it was his father’s alma mater that came calling. And made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“My father played here and I followed them a little bit,” Thomas said. “But I was a Florida State fan, more than Miami or Florida. But when it came down to picking a school, (West Virginia) gave me the best offer.”

Now, you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who bleeds the ol’ gold and blue more than Thomas.

“When I go out on the field, I represent the state of West Virginia every time I put on the uniform,” the junior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said, tapping his helmet. “I’m a Mountaineer.”

That’s why Friday’s Gator Bowl matchup with Florida State is so huge for Thomas.

“We get a chance to have a 10-win season,” he said. “And now I get a chance to play against coach (Bobby) Bowden. It really is a dream come true for me.”

Known as the “tackle monster,” it was a monster season for the all-Big East linebacker.

He had a career-best 71 tackles and defended seven passes with two interceptions.

“People see me getting around the football a lot,” Thomas said. “Good things happen when you are in the area of the football. That’s the way I try to play.”

“J.T. is a Florida guy,” defensive back Sidney Glover, an native of Ohio, said.

“He plays with an attitude. He likes to attack people.”

He admits the game has a special meaning to the Florida natives on the team.

“Guys on the team from Florida, we’re like a pack,” Thomas said. “It’s good to have guys from your area because it makes you feel like you’re at home in a way.”

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