Indiana opened the season against the second-ranked team at the time, Ohio State, suffering a 41-21 loss. While the loss was tough, a potential NFL prospect was born.
Senior tight end, Ian Thomas, scored two touchdowns against the Buckeyes, one of which was the first of the season for Hoosiers, a toe-tapping fade in the corner of the end zone. Both of Thomas touchdowns came in the red zone, showing scouts he is an asset in the red zone.
The Baltimore native is in his second season at Indiana, already surpassing his numbers from last year. Last season Thomas played in 13 games, catching 3 passes for 28 yards.
In four games this year, he has caught 16 passes, 3 touchdowns (fourth in the country), while averaging 63 yards per game.
"I learned to appreciate this chance," Thomas said about his experience these past two years.
Thomas knows first hand how tough it can be growing up in Baltimore. His parents are deceased, which for some could send them down the wrong path. Despite being a standout in football and basketball at Digital Harbor, he still had to take the long route to division 1 football.
"[Baltimore] prepared me a lot to push through the adversity on the field and off," he said. "Growing up in Baltimore I didn't have a lot. All I had was a few people in my corner and that helps me stay self-motivated."
He carries a chip around on his shoulder, even getting Baltimore tattooed on his arm as a reminder that anyone can make it out as long as they stay on track. For him it was all about keeping his goals in front of him; to make it to a division 1 school.
Now Thomas has a new goal in his sight; the NFL.
Thomas has received advice from his coaches and other players about what it is going to take to reach that ultimate goal. For him, it's about staying healthy and maintaining the right diet. The most challenging part of that is to stay self-motivated, especially in the classroom.
"Knowing that I have to keep myself on my toes every day is the hardest thing," he said about the challenges of playing division one football. "Coming from Baltimore, I know that all I have is football and my degree that I get from here. My family plays a big part in making sure I stay focus."
Thomas has found refuge at Indiana. He chose the university because they treated him like family, and without his parents, that is very important for a young man to have. Each week he increases his stock, already named tight end of the week for his performance against Georgia Southern, scoring a 71-yard touchdown.
Thomas is real life example of how one can make it out of Baltimore. The journey is never easy but as long as you keep your eyes on the goal, you'll be rewarded.