September 19, 2003

Sticking to Wideouts Like Glue

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Sports fans everywhere can explain the differences between American and European football, but none of them know quite like junior cornerback Kyle Thomas. In grade school, Thomas got a lesson he’ll never forget.

“I actually got kicked out of my soccer league for a couple infractions,” he said. “I guess you’d just call it unnecessary roughness.”

But one league’s loss is another’s gain, and shortly thereafter, Thomas traded in his soccer cleats for a set of football spikes. That was the fourth grade, the youngest that children Thomas’s age were allowed to play tackle in Florida, and since then there has been no looking back.

Thomas came to Cornell in the fall of 2001, when he played in just four games and recorded one tackle. Last season, however, he exploded, racking up 61 total tackles, and 10 broken passes while starting every game. His most productive games also happened to come when Cornell needed them the most — against Yale and Penn.

In the Yale game, Thomas had 12 tackles, but is remembered more for his effort on special teams. With one second left in the first quarter, Yale prepared to put up a 42-yard field goal. Outside linebacker Joel Sussman blocked the kick and sent the ball to the ground. Thomas emerged with the ball, and — 48 yards later —