MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Life has changed for Daniel Thomas since being drafted in the 2020 NFL draft. He packed up his things and moved to Jacksonville in July, uncertain about what would come next in his new NFL career.
“I actually have seen myself grow up a lot, just coming here by myself, no family and having to really be on my own and really have to take things into my own hands as an adult," said Thomas. “I can truly say the process is long, but it’s worth it.”
This year, things were a lot different for the rookies: virtual mini-camps, and no preseason games to get their feet wet, making the pressure to land on the 53-man roster that much greater.
“It was kinda hard on a lot of the younger guys," said Thomas. "We had to learn very fast, so we had to do a lot of extra studying and really be on top of everything. We had to really speed up the process.”
However, when Thomas got the news he was the second-string safety, it didn’t change much.
“I mean it’s obviously a surreal moment, but I don’t feel no different. I know there’s still a lot of work to be put in," he said. "I just thank God for another opportunity to go out and prove myself and go show the NFL what I got.”
Now he’s gearing up for the first game of his NFL career, and on the eve of his first professional appearance, Thomas reflected on how much he has changed, and how much truly goes into suiting up on Sundays.
“As a football player, I’ve had to study more than I’ve ever had in my life," said Thomas. "In the NFL, everyone is on that same level, but what makes it different is the mental aspect of it. You gotta be mentally sharp, you gotta know your stuff , you gotta be a pro. So that’s where I really had to develop myself to being an actual pro and taking this seriously and treating this like an actual job, which it is.”
And as he prepares for what will hopefully be the first of many NFL games, Thomas is ready to check “attend an NFL game” off his bucket list.
“I’ve never been to an NFL game before, so being able to be in an NFL game and to be a part of it, it’s going to be very exciting and I’m just looking forward to seeing how everything is gonna be, the atmosphere and just see how it is," he said.
Thomas and the Jaguars will take on the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at 12 p.m. Central.