EHS standout Thomas making his mark at Eastern Kentucky
Published 7:43 am Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Heading into the season, former Elizabethton Cyclones’ running back Ethan Thomas wasn’t quite sure what his role would be with No.19 Eastern Kentucky University. His touches could be limited or he could even be redshirted for his freshman year.
But on Saturday night, in front of almost 64,000 hostile fans, Thomas became part of a two-headed rushing attack, along with senior Dy’Shawn Mobley, that almost led the Football Championship Subdivision EKU to a 34-27 upset win against the University of Kentucky.
Thomas carried the ball 20 times for a team-high 84 yards for the 19th-ranked Colonels, with only one tackle for loss, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The former Betsy back also hauled in two passes for 26 yards. But even with the personal success, Thomas was still unhappy about the loss a couple of days later.
“We have to finish,” Thomas said on Monday over the phone. “We don’t want people to say, ‘Oh that was an SEC team. Oh you did good.’ We want to be great. People mean well when they say that stuff, and if you want to be mediocre you’re going to listen to that. But if you want to be great, you just keep pushing forward.”
Thomas had one less carry than Mobley, who transferred to EKU from Kentucky after the 2013 season and was the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year. And after a failed fourth-down conversion by Thomas during the first drive of the contest, it was Mobley that was the first in his ear offering encouragement.
“The first person to meet me on the sideline was Dy’Shawn,” Thomas said. “We hold each other accountable. We talk about it all the time. He’s going to hold me accountable and I’m going to hold him accountable and we are going to go from there.”
It was also Mobley, a Powell native, along with starting quarterback Bennie Coney, who took Thomas under their wings when he reported to campus in July.
“All of the guys were helping me out, so that when we had to report to camp, I was ready to go,” Thomas said. “It was basically a grind all summer.”
That grind seems to be paying off for Thomas, who has already gained seven pounds during his short four months on campus. But the Elizabethton grad still sounds like the same player who took the field at Brown-Childress Stadium.
“The lineman were handling them up front and they led the way, so all credit goes to them and the receivers blocking downfield,” Thomas said.
While the line cleared the way, it was Thomas who seemed to steal the show.
“It was a great atmosphere, it was good and loud,” Thomas said. “Those are the games that we really live for. It was a great test of our team and how we have grown since NC State.”
Those types of tests will hopefully lead the Colonels to their ultimate goal.
“The main goal is a national championship,” Thomas said. “We want a conference championship and a national championship.”