CARLSBAD — Well shoot, former Carlsbad High School standout Cameron Thomas is coming off a monster season and is projected as a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
Until then, Thomas, a San Diego State alum, is working hard on preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Day at SDSU. To train, Thomas headed to Exos’ facility in Phoenix, where the 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end said he is working on his technique, strength, burst off the line and diet to ensure peak performance.
But Cameron isn’t alone as he goes through training to prepare for the NFL Draft. His brother, Zachary Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle, is also training for the draft in Frisco, Texas.
“The fact that I’m, shoot, this close, means the world to me. It’s a dream coming to a reality,” Cameron said of playing in the NFL. “I didn’t think about coming out at the beginning of the season.”
The Thomas brothers were a force this season for the Aztecs. Cameron had a breakout season in the sack column, recording a team-high 11.5 to earn first-team All Mountain West honors and make the Bronko Nagurksi and Bednark Award watch lists as the most outstanding defensive player and college defensive player of the year, respectively.
Zachary helped pave the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the country. He was named second-team All MWC and made the Outland Trophy watch list as one of the nation’s best interior linemen.
But Cameron is coming off a hamstring injury, which prevented him from competing in the Senior Bowl, a final live-game opportunity for NFL hopefuls to showcase their skills for professional scouts. Regardless, Cameron said his training with Exos has him on the right path, with treatment twice per day, and is ready to take on the NFL Combine from March 1-7 in Indianapolis.
“They just handle this process really well,” Cameron said of Exos. “Whether it’s the personal training … or off the field preparing your meals and shakes.”
Cameron’s journey to projected first- or second-round pick started slowly at SDSU. After redshirting his freshman year, Cameron played on special teams in just one game in 2018. Cameron weighed just 227 pounds, which is light for a defensive end, so in the offseason gaining weight and strength was a priority.
Cameron said he used the momentum from playing on special teams in the last game into the next season. The following year he switched positions and moved to defensive tackle, where he started 12 of 13 games, recorded 5.5 sacks and was named first-team All MWC by the coaches.
His redshirt sophomore season saw him play both defensive tackle and end, where he had 35 tackles, four sacks and was again named first-team All MWC by the media and coaches.
In his final campaign for SDSU, Cameron was a force on the line, recording 11.5 sacks including three in a must-win game against Nevada to keep the Aztecs’ hopes alive of a berth in the MWC title game.
Now, the Thomas brothers are taking the next step.
“I’m lucky to have a brother who’s going through this as well,” Cameron said. “I talk with him every single day. It’s really nice to talk to someone going through it. My parents … have been very instrumental in everything I’ve done. To give them this, it means a lot to me.”