Thomas received the Alabama Sports Writers Association's Mr. Football award at a banquet at the Alabama Activities Center. The Mr. Football news highlighted an afternoon in which the backs and linemen in each AHSAA classification were revealed as well.
When Thomas got his turn at the podium, he thanked God and his family, then promptly returned to his seat.
Later, he was a bit more talkative as he held the Mr. Football plaque he received.
“This is really just the beginning of it all. This is a great award, but I want to win more,” Thomas said. “I want to win Heismans. Jameis Winston won it, so I’m hoping I’m next.”
Thomas won the award in a landslide, finishing with 217 points, including 15 of 17 first-place votes. Calera’s Ronnie Clark followed him with 130 points, and Auburn defensive lineman Rasaan Evans was third with 122.
“I’m just proud. I’m ecstatic right now,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “I’m proud for him. I’m proud for Oxford High School. I know what he’s had to put into this season since last February. We asked a lot of him and expected a lot of him. He worked his butt off and fought through ankle injuries all year.”
Thomas, who was also the Class 6A Back of the Year, is the first Calhoun County player to win the award since Mac Campbell of Alexandria in 1997 and first area player to win it since Cherokee County’s Coty Blanchard in 2009.
Thomas and last year’s Mr. Football, Auburn freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson, are the first back-to-back Auburn commitments to win since Carnell Williams and Brandon Cox accomplished the feat in 2000 and 2001. Thomas’ commitment to the Tigers showed visibly as he wore an orange and blue bowtie, which he said he got for Christmas.
Thomas rushed for 2,211 yards and had 32 touchdowns as a senior and finished his career with a school-record 6,169 yards and 82 touchdowns.
Thomas wasn’t the only Calhoun County player to make the trip to Montgomery on Wednesday. Piedmont defensive lineman Exavyer Jackson fell just shot in the Class 3A Lineman of the Year category.
Jackson finished second to Leeds linebacker Tyler Wright, who edged the Piedmont senior out 62-60.
“The guys that were finalists with me are great players. Their stats were read during the banquet,” Jackson said. “They’re outstanding players and it’s an honor just to be here to support Piedmont. It was a long ride here, but it was a lot of fun.”
Jackson will continue his career at the collegiate level, but he isn’t sure where. Of his options, the defensive lineman said he “really loves” Berry College, Shorter, Belhaven, Lindsey Wilson and Jacksonville State.
“I’m been blessed to have a lot of schools to come and talk to me,” Jackson said. “My grades are sending me far and I have a lot of options. I really love a lot of the little schools talking to me. It’s really up for grabs, but I guess we’ll see in a month.”
Class 1A Back of the Year
RB Jermarcus Brown, Pickens County
Class 1A Lineman of the Year
DL Eddquerrion Harris, R.A. Hubbard
Class 2A Back of the Year
RB Tyler Rogers, Mobile Christian
Class 2A Lineman of the Year
DL Baltazar Rubio, Tanner
Class 3A Back of the Year
RB Jamarius Henderson, Dale County
Class 3A Lineman of the Year
LB Tyler Wright, Leeds
Class 4A Back of the Year
Athlete Ronnie Clark, Calera
Class 4A Lineman of the Year
LB Richard McBryde, Charles Henderson
Class 5A Back of the Year
RB Nick Gibson, Pinson Valley
Class 5A Lineman of the Year
OL Jordan Sims, Homewood
Class 6A Back of the Year
RB Roc Thomas, Oxford
Class 6A Lineman of the Year
DL Rashaan Evans, Auburn
AISA Back of the Year
QB Jake McKenzie, Monroe County
AISA Lineman of the Year
LB Cortney Wilbanks, Restoration Academy