For Smithson Valley’s Colton Thomasson, who was selected to play in the high school All-American Bowl in the Alamodome, Saturday’s game will be an opportunity to prove he belongs with the nation’s best high school football players.
Thomasson has been attending the game, which will be televised on NBC, since he was in the fifth grade. Now he’s suiting up.
“I’m having a blast,” the 6-8, 325-pound, December graduate said after a recent practice where he took a lot of snaps at right tackle for the West squad. “At Smithson Valley, we played great schools that had a lot of talent on them. But here I’m facing a roster full of great talent.”
The All-American Bowl features over 100 of the nation’s best high school players. Many are committed to playing football at Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame and Georgia. Thomasson is heading to College Station to play for Texas A&M and will enroll in school on Monday.
“After the game Saturday, I’ll go home, pack the U-Haul, and head to school Monday,” he said.
He hopes getting to school in the spring will help him learn the system and acclimate to life as a college football player.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Thomasson of the next chapter of his football career. “I will bring everything I’ve learned from being a student-athlete at Smithson Valley to College Station.”
Thomasson says the fundamentals and attitude he learned at Smithson Valley are also helping him this week.
“I’m still texting Coach [Robert] Teuton and asking him to watch film and give me tips on how I can improve,” Thomasson said. “I think Smithson Valley also made me to be better prepared mentally. Coach [Larry] Hill instilled a level of preparation and discipline, which has already helped me. I intend to take the class, discipline and effort emphasized at Smithson Valley to help me this week, and I’ll take that to Texas A&M with me.”
Life as one of the biggest kids in his class wasn’t always a positive for Thomasson, who started getting taller than his teacher in third grade.
“I got made fun of a lot when I was younger,” Thomasson said. “I heard what parents and others were saying: ‘He’s too big.’ ‘He’s going to hurt my kid.’ It hurt. I don’t think people understood that even though I was a big kid, I was still the same age as their kid.”
Thomasson said because of his size, adults wanted him to act older or be more mature than others his age.
“I’m pretty mature for my age. But people expected me to be older. To act older,” he said.
Thomasson credits his parents for helping him through this difficult point in his life.
“My parents always stressed I should have good manners, show respect, help others and be communicative,” he said. “That’s always helped me get through rough points. It helped me be a better friend and classmate as well. I encourage people to come to the basketball games, the baseball games, to support each other.”
Despite these setbacks, Thomasson said he started to embrace his size as he got older.
“It occurred to me that I could use my size to achieve my goal of playing football,” he said.
Thomasson, who played varsity as a freshman, said it was during his sophomore year when he realized he couldn’t make it on size alone. He said going up against Ranger standouts like University of Texas at San Antonio freshman All-American Trey Moore and Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Trey Witcher in practice made him understand he would need more than size.
“Going up against those two every day made me a better player,” he said. “I weighed 405 and knew I needed to be more physical, so I worked hard to be better. To be better prepared for college football.”
Thomasson says he’s even learning this week.
“I gave up a turnover during Tuesday’s practice,” Thomasson said. “It was the first time that has happened to me. The defensive end made a spin around me, tipped the ball and intercepted it.”
The player that beat him in practice was the No. 1 edge rusher in the country, Keon Keeley, the 6-5, 240-pounder from Florida who committed to Alabama.
“I went back to my room, sat in bed, and sulked for like an hour,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I got beat like that. I wondered if I belonged here. But that’s what college football is all about. I do belong here. No one is going to win every play. I looked at the tape, learned from it, and I’ll get better.”
Thomasson says he’s excited to be an Aggie.
“I’ll have to get used to the speed of the game,” he said. “I’ll also need to be more physical. I’ll do what I need to do to be a better tackle.”
Thomasson is looking forward to Saturday’s game and playing in front of a home crowd.
“I sold over 400 tickets at Smithson Valley,” he said. “I hope they have a huge student section. I’ve made a lot of friends on the West and East teams, and it’s going to be a fun game.”