By Lauren McMillin Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
If you are walking through the Ole Miss campus on any given Saturday after a home football game, you probably won’t expect to find one of your senior Rebel football players volunteering on Grove clean-up duties. But that’s exactly where you might find running back Devin Thomas. Thomas understands the difference that giving back can make. For Thomas, giving back is a way of life.
Serving the community is a passion that Thomas discovered long before stepping onto the Ole Miss campus.
“It started back in high school,” he said. “I always wanted to give back to my community because of everything my community back in San Antonio, Texas, gave me. I’m fortunate just to help out people who aren’t as fortunate as me.”
Since becoming a student at Ole Miss, Thomas has joined a variety of programs, each serving the community in a different way. From food and clothing drives through the National Society of Collegiate Scholars to programs such as Relay for Life and Reading with the Rebels, Thomas has made a point to reach out to those around him.
“My fraternity has a program called Project Alpha,” Thomas said. “It’s basically talking to inner-city youths, showing them how to become a young adult in college, how to make sure their lives are successful so they don’t drop out or get into the wrong crowd. I feel like that helps kids.”
Thomas’ efforts to help the community have not gone unnoticed. In2012 he was nominated for the SEC’s Brad Davis Community Service Postgraduate Scholarship, an award covering all sports. Most recently, he received Ole Miss’ nomination for the AFCA Good Works Team, an honor that Thomas feels is one of his proudest accomplishments off the football field.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it. Anybody else could have gotten it. I know a lot of athletes who do community service.”
While Thomas has earned recognition for his ongoing volunteerism, he has received credit for his academic record, as well. A geology major, Thomas has made appearances on both the Chancellor’s Honor Roll and Dean’s Honor Roll. Additionally, he has been a member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll the past three seasons. this past year he was also named to Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Fortunately for the Rebels, Thomas also uses his work ethic to make on the field. In 2011, he played in all 12 games, earning his third letter. Thomas also scored his first touchdown as a Rebel, a goal that he had been patiently waiting to reach. “I’d been waiting to score a touchdown since I got here,” he said. “It took four years, but I finally got one.”
Balancing the demands of both football and academics is an important skill that Thomas has learned throughout his college career. His secret to success? “Time management,” Thomas said. “Having to manage my time, studying after practice. I know one day football is going to end, and I need a degree. Academics have been a big part of my life.”
This drive for excellence, both on and off the field, began when Thomas was a young boy. “I was seven years old the first time I played football,” he said. “I brought home a D from school. My mom said that if I made another D, she would take me out of football. I loved football, so I knew academics had to be just as important.”
Thomas influenced by, understanding the significance of working hard and supporting others.
“I looked up to my dad, how he was always working, trying to support my mom and me,” Thomas said. “The person I look up to the most, though, is my mom. She’s just a great mother, my best friend. She’s always been there for me, when I’ve been at my highs and my lows. My mom is the biggest influence right now, and she always will be.”
The guidance of his parents taught Thomas the importance of reaching out to help others. “My parents always talked about if you have a chance, give back to somebody, always give back.”
This same perspective still remains with Thomas today. Just as his parents inspired him, Thomas hopes that others will be encouraged to serve their communities, as well. “It’s almost a necessity,” he said. “If you can give back, I would say give back. You never know what can happen, only God does. One day you could be struck down with cancer or your situation isn’t turning out like you want, but if somebody is giving back to you, cheering you up, then I feel like you should do the same. It’s just a blessing to be able to give back.”
As he plans for the future, Thomas is focused on a strong finish at Ole Miss. Scheduled to graduate in December, he hopes his final year with the Rebels is a victorious one. “On the field, I just want to have a winning season go to another bowl game,” he said.
After graduation, he plans to try out for the NFL in the spring. As an alternative, Thomas thinks graduate school is a great option. Whatever happens, he is certain that his passion for serving others will never fade.
“I don’t know where I’m going to end up, but wherever I go, I’m going to look for community service,” he said. “I can’t stop giving back.”
For the second straight year, Ole Miss' Deterrian Shackelford (Decatur, Alabama) has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which is one of the most coveted and prestigious off-... Read More [+]
Ole Miss baseball player Brady Bramlett was selected to represent the Southeastern Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Bramlett's appointment... Read More [+]
The Ole Miss head track coach Brian O'Neal and assistant coach Greg Stringer opened up the Manning Center for the participants in Ole Miss' Horizons Summer Learning program on Wednesday (July 9).... Read More [+]
Mary Ashton Nall grew up around intercollegiate athletics, specifically college football. Her father, Hugh, played football at Georgia and coached at Ole Miss and Auburn. From competing in the NCAA... Read More [+]
Through the Rebel Relief Project, Ole Miss fans and area residents will have the opportunity to donate household and clothing items for tornado victims across Mississippi at various locations in... Read More [+]
The Ole Miss Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), is partnering with Purshoeing Joy to collect used shoes for children in Guatemala. SAAC members will be collecting shoes at Friday's (April... Read More [+]
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games. Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more
Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more
Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more
With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more
While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more
In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more
Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more
Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more
Ole Miss collected a lot of hardware over the weekend, as the football team reclaimed the Egg Bowl trophy and the men's and women's basketball returned home with regular-season tournament championship. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week... read more