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. Thomas 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 invitation to and week at the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game in El Paso:
"I was surprised to hear I'd been invited to the game (Thomas had not been invited to the Hula Bowl or the Senior Bowl). Richard Burnoski, my agent, told me about two weeks before. I was really excited. I felt great. It was a big opportunity to show my talents and show I still have it. It was me being back on the field, where I hadn't been in a long time. It was a blessing. And I heard shortly after that that I'd get to play with (Gators teammate) Joe Cohen again for the last time.
"So I got to go out there with Joe, and I played with Taurean Charles, he went to Bethune-Cookman … he used to go to Florida and then transferred. I had fun, met some scouts one on one, let them know the real me. I felt like it went pretty well.
"The scouts asked me pretty much everything about my situation with Florida and my dealing with it. I was telling them that that's in the past. I told them I know being on the field was a great opportunity for me. I know how easy the game can be taken away from you, and I love to play the game.
"I'm a high-quality person, no police record. I was telling scouts all of that. I had fun, but it was a little stressful at first to answer all of their questions.
"During practices they were talking to me and telling me that I showed spurts of greatness, but I was a little rusty. By the third and fourth quarter of the game I started getting it back. In practice I was doing really well. I can rush the passer and stop the run. They had me head up on the guard, and I'm used to playing '3' technique. I'm used to shading into the gap, so I had to get used to that.
"I feel like I increased my draft stock. Physically, I feel like I'm real good and can help a lot of teams. Hopefully they can let go of what happened in the past.
"It seemed like they all kind of reacted the same. I never had any issues at Florida until my senior year, but it's something you have to prove to them.
Thomas continues to train at Velocity in Jacksonville. It is his hometown, and his agent is based there.
"I'm working on a whole bunch of speed drills. I'm trying to get in really good shape because I know they try to wear you out (at the NFL Combine). I'm also working on my bench press and 40 time. I feel like I'll do real well in my 40 and the 10-yard shuttle. My main focus is on those. As far as the bench, I can do 225 pounds about 32 times, but I'm trying to get that up. I can max out at 465-470. I wish at the Combine you could just do your max bench and that would be it."