Box scores do not tell the whole story of running back Alex Thomas ’12. Although he has been putting up gaudy numbers for the football team since his sophomore year, Thomas said his motivation on the field goes beyond the stat sheet.
“The biggest incentive for me [to play football] is seeing how proud it makes my mother,” Thomas said. “She’s able to come to every game and watch me play, so that’s a big part of what inspires me.”
But football did not always offer a bonding experience for the two. Thomas wanted to start playing football at an early age but said that his mother made him wait until he was 10 to play.
Once he got on the field, however, it was clear that Thomas was meant to play running back. At Ansonia High School, which is only an eight-mile drive from the Yale campus, Thomas became one of the most prolific high school running backs in Connecticut history. Over the course of his career, he accumulated state records in career rushing yards, total touchdowns and total points. He finished his senior with with 141 career touchdowns. Despite the magnitude of these numbers, Thomas was quick to deflect praise onto his teammates and coaches.
“I was blessed enough to be part of a great team,” Thomas said. “A lot of players who had the potential of playing football in college were on my team, and we had great coaching.”
Thomas has been a standout player for the Bulldogs since his sophomore year. He has led the team in rushing the past three seasons, including this season, and was named second team All-Ivy last year.
This week, Thomas is preparing for his last shot at winning The Game.
“[Losing to Harvard] is just a terrible feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s something that you don’t want anyone else to have to experience. I don’t want to have that taste in my mouth when I graduate.”
Thomas said he will prepare for Harvard like he prepares for all other opponents — with a calm, levelheaded approach.
“I’m not one of those guys that listens to crazy heavy metal music and bangs his head against the wall,” Thomas said. “I’m just relaxed and when the game comes I just stop thinking, go unconscious and play.”
Despite the excitement of the upcoming showdown against Harvard, Thomas said that he tries to treat the annual matchup like any other Saturday. Still, Thomas pointed out that he gets caught up in the excitement on campus, adding that the campuswide energy surrounding the Game fires him up to play his hardest.
As one of the most experienced players on the team, teammates have turned to Thomas all season for his leadership and inspiration. Teammate and fellow running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 cited Thomas as a big influence on his game.
“I attribute some of my development to the role of AT as an example,” Cargill said in an e-mail to the News. “Thomas is very technically sound and consistent, both parts of my game I am continuing to develop. He has become a good friend and mentor to me over my time here at Yale.”
Wide receiver Chris Smith ’13 added that Thomas is a gamer with an incredible work ethic who always shows up ready to play on the field and ready to lift in the weight room.
Thomas insists that he just tries to set an example for the younger players, adding that positive thinking in the huddle can go a long way on the field.
Thomas will be starting in the backfield for the Bulldogs on Saturday in his final collegiate game, a milestone that he said is sneaking up on him.
“It hasn’t really hit me that hard yet, but I think on Saturday it definitely will,” Thomas said. “It’s a weird feeling. This is all I’ve known for the past four years and that’s about to change in a week.”