Syracuse Football: Get to Know Your Orange Man -- #1 Phillip Thomas

Jazz hands! (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

We've finally reached the end.  Well, sort of.  There's some walk-ons to take care of and such but this is the end of regulation.  Hooray for everything!

Make sure that you catch up on all the profiles you may have missed by clicking this fancy blue text. If you don't, you'll look like a real maroon on Thursday if you have no idea what Nick Lepak ate for breakfast when he was six.  (Answer: Everything.)

PLAYER: Phillip Thomas

NUMBER: 1

POSITION: Safety

YEAR: Junior

HEIGHT: 5'11"

WEIGHT: 190

HOMETOWN: Miami, FL

HIGH SCHOOL: Miami Edison Senior

2010 STATS: Playing next to #SHAMARKO last year, Thomas' impact to the Syracuse defense was a bit overlooked by some. In the overall, Thomas started all 13 of the Orange's games last year and ended up ninth in the Big East with 7.1 tackles per game.  In Syracuse's biggest games, Thomas came up huge: Against Kansas State, he had seven stops (four solo); against Rutgers, seven stops; against Boston College, he went into double digits will 11 hammerings; at Washington he went nuts -- 10 solo stops (one for a loss) and 12 overall.

Thomas is a just a shark stalking his prey. 

2011 PROJECTIONS:  I project Thomas to put three guys in body bags and a fourth in one of those comas that gets you on 20/20 as a super sad story.

This all, of course, while rehabbing a broken jaw:

The Thomas "brothers," as Shamarko Thomas referred to himself and fellow safety Phillip Thomas — no relation — are finally back together.

Phillip had surgery to repair a broken jaw suffered early in camp, and Shamarko missed time with a concussion, but both players are listed as starters for the Wake Forest game.

Both of them are juniors and are by far the most experienced players in the SU secondary after starting all last season.

So when each went down with an injury in camp, it didn't bode well for Orange faithful.

"It was pretty difficult (to sit out), but at the same time I was teaching the young guys just in case," Phillip said. "I'm plan A. Plan B is to teach the young guys."

Phillip said he is about 95 percent right now and on his way toward being fully healthy. He is back to wearing a helmet in practice after being restricted following surgery.  

Plan C is "Aw, hell.  We're totally screwed."

WHAT DID SCOUT/RIVALS SAY?: Scout two-starred the piss out of Thomas.  Rivals went the three star route, mostly out of fear of Thomas head hunting it as it tried to write profiles over the middle.

HOW'D HE GET HERE?: The glitz of Hollywood, of course!

Thomas said he got interested in Syracuse last fall after seeing an early screening of the motion picture "The Express," the story of former Orange tailback Ernie Davis. Thomas said Syracuse defensive coordinator Scott Shafer got involved in recruiting him the last few weeks and it went from there.

The moving pictures is why I applied to Faber. 

INTERESTING NUGGET OF INTEREST: Guess what?  You live a pampered life, you privileged punk. You know who didn't?  Phillip Thomas:

Thomas plays angry. But now he is not. As a child, he was. [His aunt] attributes it to misery, misdirection and, mostly, confusion.

Thomas was born on Nov. 19, 1990, to Michael Byrd and Sylvia Thomas.

Byrd died of AIDS when Phillip was 4, [his aunt] said. Thomas says he met his father once, when he saw a movie with him and his two sisters. That was it. Thirteen years passed until Phillip's sister, Denika Byrd, revealed the reason for their father's death. By then, Phillip said, he figured.

*****

Sylvia was out on the streets of Liberty City during Phillip's childhood, "getting into trouble," [his aunt] said. After she was arrested twice for cocaine possession and trespassing, Sylvia was jailed for two years for attempting to sell four Valium pills to undercover police. As a result, in December 1997, Sylvia legally lost her right to raise him.

Phillip was 7, and [his aunt] remembers him as lost and bitter

MONEY QUOTE:  The Shark talks about playing next to The Hashtag in 2011:

"We're in the same class, play the same position and have the same last name," Phillip Thomas said. "We want to continue to get even better. We want to be considered the best safety tandem in the Big East."

THE POWER OF NATURE AS FOOTBALL THEORY: File footage of Phillip Thomas hunting West Virginia's Tavon Austin:

 

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