Arguably the most intriguing addition to the Pittsburgh Steelers roster during the NFL Draft, was Florida State Seminoles linebacker Matthew Thomas. When you look at the measurables, he checks many boxes — good size at 6’3″, 230lbs, high-level athleticism, and someone that was very productive in his junior and senior year. What many do not know about Thomas are the trials and tribulations he had to endure in order to get this point.
I had the opportunity to chat with Thomas about his passion for the game and the obstacles he had to overcome in his life. One thing is for certain, this motivated young man ready to make an impact right away.
You are one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft. When looking at your measurables, you seemed to have checked all the boxes. Why do you believe teams passed up the chance to draft you?
Thomas: I mean it’s obvious, I had some issues and made some mistakes in college. There were questions if I loved ball. Most felt as if they couldn’t trust me based off my history and all the concerns determined the outcome.
In terms of your skillset as a linebacker, what attributes do you bring to the table that sets you apart from the other linebackers you’ll be competing against for a roster spot with the Steelers?
Thomas: As far as my skillset, I’m the type of linebacker who shouldn’t come off the field. I can stop the run, play in space, cover backs & tight ends in coverage, rush the passer situationally and blitz.
Growing up, which player/athlete was your biggest influence and why?
Thomas: Growing up I admired, rest in heaven, Sean Taylor because of his relentlessness and how he played the game. Deion Sanders as well, because of how confident he was with his game.
The Steelers as you know are a franchise with a storied history of winning championships. In what ways can you contribute to helping this team win a Super Bowl?
Thomas: Well before I can help I’ll need to know what I’m doing. I’m a fast learner so I’ll pick up quick, but immediately I know I can contribute on special teams.
What obstacles (mental or physical), do you believe that you need to overcome, in order to make the Steelers roster?
Thomas: Just have my mind right and be in the best shape.
What were your emotions when you were informed that the Steelers were going to sign you?
Thomas: I was very emotional, I actually thought I would be drafted at least. Not being drafted lit a fire under me so I’m that much [more] motivated to being great in this league.
Your mother, as it has been documented, passed away back in 2015 a lung disease. I can only imagine how much this affected you. How did you manage to persevere, and how do you continue to use her as motivation?
Thomas: It was a hard time for me, but growing up I saw how my mother fought for her family to survive. Embracing the struggle, doing whatever she had to. She fought day in and out working numerous jobs to support us. She was the perfect role model. Even if I wanted to quit it’s not in me to, I wasn’t raised like that. It took a lot but I reached deep down and fought through all the adversity. I always been a fighter regardless of the situation. You have to fight for what you love. I have my own family now and I’m extremely motivated to take care of them. All I needed was an opportunity and I got one so I’m excited, truly thankful and ready to go.
You can follow Thomas through his Twitter profile, @6FromOvertown