Former University of Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas understands that he has as much to prove off the field as on it leading up to the NFL Draft. Thomas was dismissed from the team prior to the Vanderbilt game on Nov. 4 for what coach Urban Meyer deemed an inability "to meet his responsibilities and obligations to remain on the team." It ended a tumultuous senior season for the Jacksonville, Fla., native. Thomas missed Florida's season opener because of a suspension for failing a drug test during the summer. He also served a two-game suspension midseason for a failed drug test, though Thomas said both suspensions were for the same failed test. He said his dismissal from the team resulted from his failure to attend a drug-education class. Thomas started all five games this season in which he was available and had 26 tackles, 5.5 for loss and four sacks. Frank Coyle of draftinsiders.com rates Thomas as the No. 57 prospect in the draft. In this entry, Thomas talks about his final preparations for the NFL Combine which begins Wednesday in Indianapolis:
"I'm hanging out in Gainesville right now. I worked out this morning in Jacksonville then came down here to hang out with some of my friends. We're watching some film on the little bowl I was in (the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game was held Feb. 2 in El Paso).
"I'm heading up to the combine on Friday. We're branched out in 10 groups. I'm in group eight with a couple of first-rounders. The dude from Michigan (Alan Branch) is in our group. There are a couple of Gators in my group, (Jarvis) Moss and Joe Cohen. We'll have a lot of fun up there. I know Moss will do some crazy stuff in those workouts.
"Man, I think I'm more than ready. I'm tired of working out. I don't have anything to show for it. I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to it."
Thomas was asked what a typical day has been during the lead-up to the Combine.
"I'm staying in a house at the beach in Jacksonville with Joe Cohen and Josh Beekman (all three are clients of Jacksonville-based agent Richard Burnoski, who was Thomas' high school coach at Jacksonville Mandarin). In the morning I wake up and get ready, then I go work out at about 10. We'll go through meetings after that with Coach Bruno (Thomas' nickname for Burnoski). Every day we're learning a little bit more about the draft and contracts. Then I meet with my mentor about 2 p.m. and we go over a couple of things. Every day is scheduled. We've been working out six days a week. It's about 5 miles to Velocity (the workout facility) from where we're staying.
"Next week I'll work out Monday through Wednesday then do a light workout on Thursday. I want to give myself a little rest. I don't want to be out there at the Combine with my muscles all sore. I want to get out there and run that 40 and show them what I can do.
"The combine for me is more of an interview than the other stuff. I can put numbers up in the 40 and the bench-press and that 10-yard shuttle run ? great numbers. Really, with my situation, it's just talking to people face to face and showing them what kind of guy I am. I'm looking forward to meeting with the general managers and coaches. They'll see I'm a good guy who can't wait to play the game."