Carlo Thomas isn’t satisfied with one All-America season.
J.C. Smith’s junior safety earned accolades last year by leading all college football divisions with 12 interceptions, but that’s the past. A new season represents new opportunity, he said.
“I really don’t think about it as much,” said Thomas, who is 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. “Yeah, I’m an All-American and people congratulate me, but I feel like that year is over with. Now I’ve got to repeat.
“I’ve got to work harder to get back where I was. It’s a new season. I have no stats, so I have to do it again.”
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Thomas had a dream season despite a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. He broke onto the national scene Oct. 17 with four interceptions, including a pair of returns for touchdowns in a 37-20 win against Fayetteville State.
He followed that performance the next week with three interceptions in a 17-10 win against Shaw, and picked off two each in wins against Kentucky State and St. Augustine’s.
Thomas also added 55 tackles (42 solo), nine pass breakups and forced a fumble.
The honors flowed: All-CIAA, Associated Press Little All-America and finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, given to Division II’s top defensive player.
“He had a breakout season,” Golden Bulls quarterback Jordan Lane said. “The type of season he had was unexpected, but we see the way he works in practices, which is not too much of a surprise why he played so well.
“He’s a hard-working person, a leader of a team that’s young. He makes everyone around him better.”
Thomas believes he can improve, and so can J.C. Smith, which CIAA coaches picked to finish fourth in the South Division in a preseason poll. Defensively, the Golden Bulls, who open Sept. 3 at Wingate, return seven starters to a unit that led the league with 23 interceptions.
“We’re going to make more plays and we’re going to shut a lot of people down,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be a fun thing to watch.”
J.C. Smith schedule
at Bowie State
Elizabeth City State
at Fayetteville State