Following a Father's Legacy
COLUMBIA - Derrion Thomas picked up 15 sacks his senior season at Blue Spring South High School. But football isn't his only sport. During his Junior year Thomas won the Missouri H.S. swimming title in the 50 meter freestyle.
Derrion Thomas grew up in Kansas City, in 2008 he helped Blue Spring South make it to the State Championship game. Now Mizzou is his home and his teammates have become his second family.
"This is as good as it gets in a family atmosphere." says Thomas
Thomas is deep on the depth chart at defensivce end, but it dosn't bother him, he says it's motivation. "When you look at the talent that you have in front of you, you realize that it's not necessarily that you're not a good player it's just that you work a little harder everyday."
A lesson Derrion learned at a young age from his dad, Derrick Thomas, one of the best football players in Kansas City Chiefs history.
Thomas knows that his father is someone to be proud of "Everyone likes to brag about their family and their background. If someone asks I have no problem in telling them how it was."
In 11 seasons Derrick Thomas played in nine pro-bowls and collected 126.5 career sacks. However in January of 2000 Derrick's car crashed in a snowstorm in Kansas City. A couple of weeks later a blood clot ended his life at the age of 33.
Derrion knows he isn't his father and will have to find his own path to success "I'm Derrion Thomas and he was Derrick Thomas. We're two different people and I try to keep it that way. I try not to get too hung up in his legacy and play my own game."
In 2009 the Chiefs retired Thomas's number 58, just a few months after he'd enterned the NFL Hall of Fame.
"That's one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being there and accepting that for him was deeply humbling."
Derrion says he remembers going to his dad's games but he hopes that fans also will remember his dad's work off the field.
"He was a great guy with his 3rd and long foundation and helping out kids and just bettering his community."
Derrion is busy working on his own legacy, and the more time he spends at Mizzou, the more his goals are changing.
"In the beggining I would have told you that my goal was to come here and get on the field somewhere, but in recent weeks, there's no reason why I can't strive to be an All-American."
Just like his dad, 23 years ago.
As a college football player at Alabama, Derrick Thomas was a 1988 unanimous frist team all-american where he set the SEC record for sacks in a season with 27. Now in 2011 his son Thomas will try to build his own legacy and his own path to gratness.