FAYETTEVILLE – Senior defensive tackle Robert Thomas met with members of the media Wednesday to discuss his season-ending injury and to&look back on his collegiate career as a member of the University of Arkansas football team.
"I want to thank Coach Bielema for having that much trust and faith in me," Thomas said. "I want to thank all my staff and my teammates. I thank Arkansas. This is a place where I became a man. I came here a boy and I leave a man."
Thomas said the season-ending injury and situation dealt to him have helped him realize a valuable life lesson.
"Sometimes in life things don’t go how you planned them, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches," Thomas said. "I’m thankful for everything I’ve had here. I’m looking toward the future."
When Coach Bielema approached Thomas about the idea of having a different player honor him by wearing his No. 98 jersey each game, Thomas said he was honored.
"That was a blessing," Thomas said. "I never thought anything like that would ever happen to me around here. I’m just thankful for that. I’ve got a few guys in mind."
Last week against Alabama, teammate&Byran Jones became the first to switch his jersey number to 98 and represent Thomas on the field.&
"Byran Jones, I picked him first because I knew he was going to go out there and be Byran," Thomas said."He’s been one of my best friends since I got here. I know him better than I know myself."
While he will no longer be able to suit up as a member of the Razorbacks, Thomas said that he knows and believes he&can still have an important&impact on the team.
"I know I can’t do it on the field, but as soon as they’re off the field I can be the first one there," Thomas said. "Talking to them in the classrooms, training rooms and anywhere I can."
Thomas is expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken bone during Arkansas’ game against South Carolina on Oct. 12. He said he has made it a goal to walk on Senior Day.
"To give the team, the fans and everybody some motivation," Thomas said of his goal. "(Motivation) to keep pushing, because we’re going to be alright."
Kickoff for the Auburn game on Saturday, Nov. 2, is scheduled for either 5 p.m. on ESPN2 or 6 p.m. on ESPN. The Auburn game is the final on-campus contest for the Razorbacks this season and will also serve as Senior Day. The program’s seniors, including Thomas, will be recognized in a special ceremony prior to kickoff. Arkansas has won two straight in the series and four of the last five.
Single-game tickets for the Auburn game on Nov. 2 and the Mississippi State game in Little Rock on Nov. 23 are on sale. Single-game tickets can be purchased at ArkansasRazorbacks.com, at the Razorback Ticket Center or by call 800-982-HOGS (4647). Apitionally, tickets for the Little Rock game can be purchased at the War Memorial Stadium Ticket Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on Arkansas football, follow @RazorbackFB on Twitter.