- Outland Trophy (2006)
- Consensus All-American (2006)
- 2x First-team All-Big Ten (2005, 2006)
Because of Wisconsin’s depth at offensive line and Thomas’s athleticism, he was used primarily as a blocking tight end as a freshman in 2003. He was moved to left tackle as a sophomore where he started every game for three straight seasons.
After playing tight end as a freshman, Thomas’ athleticism and versatility were relied upon again his junior season. With injuries depleting Wisconsin’s defensive front and the team desperately needing bodies in a Capital One Bowl matchup with Auburn, Thomas played both offensive tackle and defensive end. Although the Badgers held on to beat Auburn 24-10, Thomas, unfortunately, suffered a torn ACL while playing defense in the second half.
He underwent reconstructive surgery in January and returned at almost 100-percent to start his senior season nine months later. He was elected as a team captain and again started in all 13 games, anchoring an offensive line that paved the way for a 1,500-yard rushing season from P.J. Hill and a 12-1 season record. Thomas was recognized as a consensus All-American and also took home the Outland Trophy. He started 38 straight games at left tackle in spite of the torn ACL.
I wish I could say he went on to win multiple Super Bowls or maybe just retired after playing four seasons at Wisconsin but instead he was drafted third overall by the Browns in 2006.
Bonus Fact: Wisconsin had two backs rush for over 1,500 yards with Thomas at left tackle and no running back ever averaged less than 4.7 yards per carry in his three seasons as a starter.