Academy changes Pitt player's perspective
College Football Videos
The day Pitt outside linebacker Todd Thomas walked onto the campus at Milford Academy — 17 miles from New Berlin, N.Y. (population, 1,100) — he knew he was long way from Beaver Falls.
And not merely in terms of distance.
For one, there was the uniform — and not the one he wore Saturday afternoons for the football team.
"Tie, blue blazer and khaki pants," Milford coach Bill Chaplick said, proudly.
Then, there were the wake-up call (6 a.m.) and curfew (10 p.m.) on opposite ends of a daily and mandatory series of meetings, meals, classes, study halls and practices.
Not to mention the environment.
"Kids come here, and they are used to a co-ed situation," Chaplick said. "Here, it is all boys. Here, it is all work. There are no bells and whistles — strictly a Spartan lifestyle.
"The glue that sticks to them is that they all have failed at one point."
Most recover, with Milford sending 98 percent of its students to college, Chaplick said.
Thomas is one of a handful of former and present Pitt players who attended Milford after high school because they weren't ready for college.
Chaplick said there are 11 Milford products in the NFL, including former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy, and 47 on NCAA Division I programs. Freshman nose tackle K.K. Mosley-Smith was defensive MVP last year on an 11-1 Milford team. Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Mark Giubilato also was at the school.
Thomas took two detours after leaving Beaver Falls, first to Milford, where he was defensive MVP in 2009, and then at Pitt, where he injured his knee last year getting ready for Notre Dame.
Today, 10 months after ACL surgery, he's working with Pitt's first team at outside linebacker, ahead of three-year starter and fifth-year senior Greg Williams.
Pitt coach Todd Graham likes how Thomas has shown no lingering effects from surgery.
"He is very aggressive, very physical," he said.
Still, Graham is far from naming a starter, pointing out Williams recorded several simulated sacks at practice Tuesday.
"It's a battle. They are battling," Graham said. "Both of those guys are guys who could be in our best 11. I am very impressed with them and their ability to impact the quarterback."
Thomas is just happy to be in the mix.
"It feels good working hard and getting back from surgery," he said. "I have come a long, long way."
At Beaver Falls, Thomas was merely a great athlete who was able to dominate lesser ones. At Milford and Pitt, he has become a student of the game, sometimes sitting in the film room for three hours at a time.
"In high school, you just ran around, and the coach says, 'You got him,' " he said. "Here, you really have to know the game. You have to study the game."
That's part of what Thomas learned at Milford, where he said he earned As and Bs while focusing on what really mattered.
"I was in upstate New York, so far away from home," he said. "I wasn't used to being away from my mom and family.
"It was school before football. In high school, it was football before school.
"Milford changed me. It made me grow up."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins trade Bortuzzo, pick for St. Louis defenseman Cole
- No franchise tag for Steelers’ Worilds
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
- Burial set for remains of World War II soldier from Perrysville
- Arrogant media elites mock Middle America
- Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
- Sales, income taxes increases expected in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget
- Tax on shale-gas drillers would punish industry, Turzai says
- LaBar: Is Brock Lesnar leaving WWE again?
- Long-term closures at Carnegie interchange on Parkway West to begin
- Amish boy stable after riding pony into intersection, being hit by car