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January 26, 2006Just as things were heating up for one of the state's most talented defensive lineman, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound highly regarded Stephen Thomas had a bump in the road and made a big switch in the middle of his junior year.
As a member of the Class of 2007 100 to watch, the talented Thomas ran into some academic issues and in the end decided that North Mesquite was not going to be the school for him. North Mesquite coach Steve Bragg says that the talented young man has all the talent in the world and is just working on getting his school situation settled.
"He only played three games for us last year because he was academically ineligible for most of the season," Bragg said. "It ended up that he decided to just leave North Mesquite all together. So, he is moving out to Lancaster now."
"It was anything serious other than he just needed to do some work in the classroom."
Lancaster coach Cliff Keeling says that Thomas has in fact made it over to his new high school and they're going to take the necessary steps to make sure that he's not only successful on the football field, but in the classroom.
Upon arrival, Thomas was given a chance to figure out the best plan of attack that he and his mother would take to make sure that he would have no problems going into his senior season fully eligible.
"We're going to get him on the field," Keeling said. "The good part about Lancaster, is that we have a support team that is vital to our program in that truly want to see the kids succeed on the classroom not just on the football field.
"So when his mom got introduced to the coaches, he also got introduced to Stephen's counselor and the academic team that is going to put together a credit program so he can catch up."
Thomas certainly has work to do, but Keeling says that he has already said he'll work hard through not only his spring semester but a heavy load of summer courses to make up the credits he needs to fulfill.
"Somewhere he fell through the cracks over there, but he knows that he can do a lot better and we've got him focused on doing what he can now," Keeling said.
Though Keeling has not had a chance to see much but clips of film on his new defensive tackle, he knows that he'll not only have a harder worker in the classroom but on the football field.
"Man, the first time we saw him as a coaching staff we were blown away with Stephen," Keeing said. "I mean this kid can really play. Now we just have to make sure he gets the class work done so he can make a difference for us."