Lester Thomas was informed he was in trouble when summoned to Godby High football coach Ronnie Cottrell’s office last Friday.
Thomas had a few moments to think as he quickly maneuvered through the school hallways.
“I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong,” Thomas said.
Actually, Thomas had done nothing wrong. Not a chance. In fact, a smiling Cottrell had great news for the Cougars’ standout defensive back.
Florida Atlantic University had offered Thomas a scholarship.
“I was really surprised — it’s going to be a great opportunity,” Thomas said.
Thomas, a 5-foot-11, 165-pounder, committed to FAU on Sunday after he discussed his options with his parents and Cottrell. He will be given the opportunity to be a two-way player in college at receiver and defensive back.
Known for his preparation, athleticism and leadership skills, Thomas has played a key role in the Cougars’ success the past three seasons.
He finished last year with 82 tackles and six interceptions. While opponents have shied away from Thomas this season, the senior remains a steady, calming influence.
“He’s one of those kids you root for at all costs,” assistant head coach Cleon McFarlane said.
“Lester is just so well-mannered, and that’s a reflection of his parents and home life. He’s a coach on the field for us, a guy who gets everyone lined up. He’s always in the right place, and that’s a testament of his preparation and how he plays the game.”
Thomas also had received offers from Western Kentucky, Tennessee State and Gardner-Webb University, but felt FAU, located in Boca Raton, was a better fit academically and athletically.
The Owls’ early season schedule this year featured road games at Georgia and Alabama.
“Coach Cottrell told me the opportunity was too good to pass up,” said Thomas, who hopes to soon visit the campus for the first time. “Players have told me it’s a nice place, and I am excited about the opportunity.”
Cottrell describes Thomas as “a throw-back player,” one who works hard and has the skill to excel at different positions. Thomas has played receiver and on special teams, returning punts and kickoffs.
Thomas, who plans to play baseball for the Cougars this spring for the first time, describes his approach as being “humble and hungry.”
“Lester’s very productive on the field, and it doesn’t what job you give him because he’s going to get it done,” Cottrell said. “He’s extremely coachable — whatever you tell him, he does it.”