NORWALK, Conn. – St. Luke’s in New Canaan knew it had a good thing with Norwalk’s Noel Thomas Jr. at running back. The Storm hope Thomas is even better at wide receiver.
Thomas committed in the spring to play football at the University of Connecticut, where he will be a wide receiver. He figures to get plenty of touches in the team’s spread offense this fall. Last year, he had one of the best seasons in St. Luke’s history as a running back with 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 14.16 yards per carry.
“I’m definitely going to miss running the football,’’ said Thomas, whose father, Noel Sr., is in his first year as head coach at St. Luke’s. “But I’m happy I’m going to be in the position that I’ll play at the next level.”
Thomas had six receptions last season. He caught the eye of UConn scouts at camps, however, with his catching ability. “When I was younger, I always wanted to be a running back,’’ said Thomas, who played on the Norwalk youth football team that reached the Pop Warner national championship round in 2004. “I played for two years at Norwalk High, and that’s when I thought I wanted to be a receiver.”
Noel Sr. believes his son’s experience as a running back helps him as a receiver. “He was a fullback as a youth player, and that helped him run aggressively,’’ Thomas Sr. said. “Now that he has the quickness with that aggressive running mentality, it gives him a big edge as a receiver.”
Thomas is aware some people will be critical of his statistics compiled against Fairchester Athletic Association competition. Fortunately, Norwalk’s Silas Redd and Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played at King in Stamford, proved that players in the FAA can succeed in Division I college programs. Redd is a running back at Southern California after transferring from Penn State, and Pierre-Louis is a starter at Boston College. “There are always people that will say you can’t play in the FAA,’’ Thomas Jr. said. “Silas and Kevin have shown that it can be done.”
Thomas begins his journey at UConn in January. He will complete his academic requirements at St. Luke’s in December, shortly after the football season ends. Then he is in the hands of the Huskies.
“It’s definitely going to be a lot of hard work,’’ Thomas Jr. said. “If I put the work in, I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it.”