PISCATAWAY – If it weren’t for Logan Ryan, Ian Thomas probably wouldn’t be one of Rutgers’ starting cornerbacks to open the season.
“Logan Ryan made him a corner in bowl prep,” head coach Kyle Flood said. “He was the one who made the first suggestion when he was covering him as a flyer on the punt team.”
A moment that Thomas vividly remembers.
“I was the scout punt return team and I was on the starting punt team, so I’m guarding him as if I’m the corner because he’s the flyer,” Thomas said. “And coach Flood was watching us at the time and after two or three reps, Logan goes over to coach Flood and tells him that I have good hips to be a corner and I’m good at jamming. And that’s how it all started.”
Soon enough, Thomas was taking reps with Ryan and the rest of the cornerbacks.
“It was interesting because it wasn’t something we had thought about as a coaching staff as an option, but at the same time, when I mentioned it to Ian, he was anxious to try it.” Flood said. “After a couple of bowl practices, it was easy to see he was going to be good. How good? We didn’t know at that point, but he’s certainly taken advantage of the opportunity both on the field and the opportunity that the depth chart has presented.”
The opportunity was a chance to start. With Rutgers losing four cornerbacks from last year’s two-deep, Thomas knew he’d have a chance to get on the field this year. Even if it was at a position he’d never played before.
“I always thought I could be a starting corner just because of the depth that we had. We didn’t have a lot,” Thomas said. “We were kind of low on numbers at corner, so I always had that thought in the back of my head [I could start], but I didn’t think it would happen that quickly.”
Now, Thomas will be the starter opposite Gareef Glashen when Rutgers opens the season at Fresno State on Thursday night.
“Exciting,” Thomas said of starting. “This is what I’ve been waiting here since I got here. I got here, redshirted, so I didn’t get to pay a whole year and this is finally it. This is what I came here for.”