Q&A With Offensive Lineman Jaimie Thomas
July 16, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Injuries are an unfortunate reality in football, but in the case of Maryland's offensive line, last year's losses should result in this season's gains. Take for example senior offensive lineman Jaimie Thomas, a two-year starter at left guard for the Terrapins.
Like several of his teammates on the line, Thomas missed significant time in 2007 due to injury. But he returns for his final year as a healthy component of a senior-laden line that developed depth last season out of necessity in the absence of key players. Thomas now joins a veteran line consisting of six seniors and eight returning letterwinners preparing for the upcoming season.
Thomas sat down with umterps.com earlier this week.
How beneficial will it be this season to have an offensive line blessed with depth?
"We fell into a situation last year where a few of us went down and guys had to step up. This time around those guys have experience under their belt. Last year they did a good job filling in, and they got a taste of the game. Now we have a lot of guys who are ready to go."
How tight-knit are the six seniors on the offensive line?
"We are really close. It's weird how me, Scott (Burley), Edwin (Williams) and Lee (Oliver) all started on the offensive side of the ball, but Dane (Randolph) and Jack (Griffin) were defensive guys who we went against us in practice our freshman year. Now both of those guys are on the line with us. We've always been a tight-knit group, this class of fifth-year seniors. We're all guys who have been around a while. Off the field we all hang out, and you also see our friendship carries out on the field. We all get along really well."
You have two brothers who attended Maryland during the early portion of your career. What was that like for you?
"They were definitely a factor in my decision to come to Maryland. It wasn't too far from home and they have good academic programs and a good football program, but I also had family here. Having my brothers here helped a lot, especially coming in as a freshman when you don't know many people yet."
Is there any particular reason why your first name is spelled uniquely?
"Actually, there is. My mom took French in college, and I guess in that language `Jaimie' means `I love you' when it's spelled that way. I know it's a little different spelled like that - I have a bunch of trophies at home with `Jamie' on them - but that's the reason why."
Will your father, Jerome, be able to continue his tradition this season of addressing the team prior to a game?
"He's already been talking with (Director of Football Operations) Jemal Griffin about doing another devotional, so I believe he is going to do that this year."
What is it like for you to have your father address the team like that?
"I've always heard my dad speak. He's been a pastor since I was young. I've always heard him in church, but it's a little different when he talks to the team. He gets us inspired, and he really preaches from the heart. He did the devotional two years ago when we went down to Clemson and we ended up winning that game at a tough place. I wouldn't be surprised if he does it again this year when we go back down to Clemson."
You and your teammates on the offensive line obviously are focused on the upcoming season, but do any of you ever speak of aspirations to continue your careers in the NFL?
"Almost every kid dreams of playing professional football, and especially when you're playing at this level, you think you have a better chance at it. We all know we have to work hard and that nothing is promised. We have to go out every day with a focused mentality and prepare for this season, and let the blessings come if that's what God has planned for us. It's definitely a dream of all of ours. We all have aspirations to play at that next level on Sundays, but for now we're focused on this year because this is our last chance to play here."