DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — The UC Davis Aggies’ 2021 football season is in the rearview mirror, but for senior defensive back Isaiah Thomas, the real work has just begun since he’s declared for the NFL Draft.
“I’ve always thought about declaring for the draft and I knew the best opportunity was right after the season ended for us,” Thomas told FOX40. “I mean we were pretty good, went 8-4. I thought I definitely made some impact plays and had a great career at UC Davis.”
Thomas dropped his announcement on social media just before the Christmas holiday.
“I definitely has some things already on my mind from the beginning, since I started my senior season, how I was going to do this,” Thomas explained. “So, seeing people I know also do the same thing kind of developed my own interpretation of how I wanted people to see me.”
Thomas is also making sure that NFL teams see him the way he wants to be seen as he prepares for UC Davis’ pro-day in the spring where he will be evaluated by NFL scouts.
Thomas is marketing himself as a special teams player first and a defensive player second.
“I definitely made my most impacts on special teams just because I played there more,” Thomas said.
Thomas played in all 12 games last season recording 18 solo tackles and eight assisted tackles as a nickelback.
Special teams, however, is where he shined on punt returns. Thomas had 244 yards on 27 catches and ranks 5th on UC Davis’ career punt return yardage list with 476 yards.
On kick returns, Thomas had 145 yards on eight catches in 2021.
“I was there my freshman year and then we had a whole new coaching staff come in with Coach Hawk, so like, when they came in, they wanted to win games and they wanted people on the field who wanted to win games,” Thomas explained.
“So, I started a lot more on punt return and kickoff return than I did on defense,” Thomas added.
He hopes his attention to his special teams play will give him his best shot at the league.
As a player coming from an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school, he is at a disadvantage when compared to the prospects coming out of NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Per the NCAA, only 0.4% of FCS players were drafted in 2019.
“It’s extra and added motivation for me to be better, to get better and just to prove myself,” Thomas said.
The numbers are smaller, but the transition has been done before with some notable FCS players in the NFL including Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback Carson Wentz and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Cupp.
So, Thomas said he knows it can work out for him too.
“If I get the opportunity to touch the field, I feel like I would definitely make the most out of it,” Thomas said.