With just one high school football season under his belt, 15-year-old Topeka High running back Ky Thomas has already received a scholarship offer from Kansas.
While he’s honored, Thomas is not shocked the Division I schools have started calling. In fact, that was part of his master plan.
“It was a goal of mine to get (a Division I) offer going into my sophomore year so it happened and it was a huge relief,” said Thomas, who will open his season Friday night against Hayden at Hummer Sports Park. “It was an accomplishment I was shooting for and I got it. It was a special moment and I’ll always remember that.”
Now the 6-foot, 180-pounder wants to keep adding “special moments” after bursting on the city scene last fall when he piled up 1,956 all-purpose yards (1,272 rushing) and scored 19 touchdowns, earning All-City Top 11 and city newcomer of the year.
“It didn’t surprise me what I accomplished,” Thomas said flatly. “I always knew what I could do. I didn’t think I was going to get the opportunity to do that because we had some seniors ahead of me, but once I got my chance I knew I was going to take full advantage of it.”
Thomas also knows his work is far from over.
“It was a big year, but if I want to get closer to my goals I’m going to have to keep on building up, building up,” he said. “That was a good year, but I’m looking to have an even better year this year.”
Topeka High coach Walt Alexander expects nothing less out of Thomas, although he knows his rising star won’t sneak up on anybody this fall as the Trojans try to improve on last season’s 5-4 record.
“Players like him don’t come around very often and when he did what he did last year he was 14,” Alexander said. “When you put it in that kind of perspective and to handle it like he’s handled it, that says a lot about his character. He’s 15 when he gets a Division I offer from KU. He’s going to start getting them and he’s already got one and he’s handled it exceptionally well.
“He’s bigger and stronger this year. We just don’t want to put a lot of pressure on him. This is the year people are going to find out what Ky Thomas is all about because everybody knows him and are going to be keying on him. He’s not going to take anybody by surprise. We don’t expect him to be our team, but he is a very talented player.”
Alexander credits Thomas’ parents for helping keep Ky, who has taken unofficial visits to KU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State, motivated and grounded.
“They’re extremely grateful for the KU offer but they’re not satisfied,” Alexander said of the Thomas family. “And they don’t want to lose that offer. Ky wants to keep improving and it just makes him work harder. That’s what you want to see with kids and that’s the part that’s hard to find in this day and age.”
Like all good running backs, Thomas is quick to credit teammates — particularly a big, talented offensive line — for any success he enjoys.
“If it wasn’t for them, 3 yards would be impressive,” Thomas said. “They’re definitely a special group and this year is a big upgrade from last year. We’re looking forward to doing a lot better things this year with this group.
“We lost some seniors last year who were some real good players so (people) aren’t expecting us to be this powerful, but I think we’ve got some weapons this year that they’re not expecting. I’m real excited.”