September 19, 2020

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Diamond in the Rough: Jalen Thomas

Jalen Thomas is an outside linebacker from Pope John Paul High School in Slidell, La. At 6’1 245 pounds, the 2021 recruit has already flashed greatness on film. Taking on lead blockers and blowing them up in the backfield to make a play on the ball carrier for a negative stop. Lining up on the strong side or the weak side, Thomas seems unblockable at the point of attack. His ability to diagnose plays quickly, and his explosive get off, are what helped him earn the 2019 Class 2A DPOTY in Louisiana. Thomas tells me he has an impressive 520 pound squat, 315 pound bench press, and 525 pound dead lift.


When did you start playing football?

I started playing football at the age of six. You know my dad was a little hesitant about me playing that early. I used to throw the football around every day at that age and my mom was like ‘I think he’s ready’ and it really just started from there. That was for the SYFA, the Slidell Youth Football Association.

What do you love about football?

The main thing I love about football, is that it’s about to teach you about life. It’s something that can keep you from getting in trouble, as far as going with the wrong crowd. I love how we can all fight together and we’re able to have fun while playing a fun sport.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

So my first year of playing a different sport was my sixth grade summer. I played basketball in a church league. I’m not playing basketball anymore, but I do power lifting and won the 2A title last year for my weight class.

Did you always play linebacker or did you play any other positions?

So before linebacker, most of my life I kind of played defensive end. It wasn’t until I got to Pope my freshman year that I was able to show everybody all the positions I can play, like tight end, fullback, and even some defensive tackle.

Looking back at last season what were some of your goals?

My first goal was to try to help my team get to the playoffs. I wanted us to have a winning season, our school has been up and down as far as winning goes. I wanted us to end on a high note. My second goal was to get first team All-District for my position, I achieved that and I am quite happy about that. And my third goal was to get first team All-State, which I came up quite short. But, I am definitely going to try harder for this upcoming year.

So going into this season, have you set any personal goals for yourself?

Yes sir, I’ve already set goals for myself. One of those goals being one that I had for myself last year which was try to get first team All-State, and repeat All-District. I want to be able to become more of a quicker player. I think I can be quicker than what I show, and I want to be able to use my hands more.

Who would you say some of your biggest influences are?

Definitely my dad, my dad has been with me the whole way. Ever since I was a kid he’s been with me. He has taught me many things, not just in football but in life. Obviously, him being drafted by the Detroit Lions and he played there for a little while. Having somebody like him, who has made it to the top level really helps me out in the long run. He’s able to teach me things. Also, my mother, she has two degrees from college. She is always able to make sure I am ok, and I am really grateful for her.

Do you think attitude is a factor in winning?

Yes sir, 100 percent. A winning attitude and a winning mentality you really have to keep that. You have to have a winning mentality if you want to be successful not just in football, but in anything you do. I feel like that mentality and attitude goes a long way.

Who would you say your favorite NFL player is?

Aaron Donald. I like how he is able to use his hands and cause havoc. He can disrupt plays, he can beat you with finesse, he can beat you with his hands, and he can beat you with bull rush. His strength and everything. That’s something I like about him.