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November 30, 2012

Thomas has more to prove at Army Bowl

MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- At Marlington High School, there have been good football teams and good football players. None of them, however, have earned the honor of Dymonte Thomas: U.S. Army All-American.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety and Michigan commit is most excited for the opportunity to prove himself in the defensive backfield. At Marlington, he has a number of roles -- but is only a safety part-time. He racked up big numbers as a running back during his senior year, and was a leader of the defense at middle linebacker. However, he's never been a full-time safety, and Thomas is ready to prove that he's more than capable of filling that role in San Antonio and beyond.

"I'm just looking forward to competing," he said. "I want to compete against the best in the country, and see how good I really am [as a safety]. I'm ready to get after it."

His frame and speed -- Thomas has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- will allow him to adapt to the new position. Stepping in and learning the ropes of being a full-time player at the last line of defense will be new to him. It's a challenge he embraces, and is looking forward to starting for the East Squad in Texas.

Of course, the Army All-American Bowl is not just a chance to prove something by playing with a chip on his shoulder. It's also recognition for what he's already accomplished on the gridiron. Only the country's best players are selected to participate in the event, and Thomas -- though he wants to show even more than he already has -- has earned the chance to participate.

"It means a lot," he said. "I'm just grateful for the fact that they chose me to represent them in the 2013 class. I've really got to give it out my family and my coaches and my teammates for helping me become the player I am today.

"It's just a great honor to be a representative for the University of Michigan and also for Marlington High School. It's a sign that I have come a long way as a football player. It shows that I am able to be a great athlete."

Marlington head coach Ed Miley admits that, although Marlington High School has produced Division I talent in the past, including Michigan State freshman offensive lineman Zach Higgins and Tennessee freshman fullback Alden Hill, Thomas has some characteristics that help him stand out above the rest.

It's one thing to be an excellent player. It's another entirely to be an All-American.

"He's so electrifying, so dynamic," Miley said. "He can hit full speed just like that -- in a snap -- and he's so physical. What's so special about him is the combination of ability and character, it's just off the charts, it really is. It's his selflessness and teammate-first attitude."

Though it will be tough to replace Thomas, the team-first attitude he's adopted will help the Dukes continue to excel when he's suiting up in the Maize and Blue in Ann Arbor.

"You don't replace him with one person, you replace him with a group," Miley said with a laugh. "That's what our kids focused on. He's been a great role model for these guys and showed them how to work and how to be humble. He really set the bar high."

Just days after participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Thomas will enroll at Michigan, and embark on the next phase of his journey as a student and an athlete. Going through spring practices will prime him to contribute for the Wolverines early in his career.



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