Chad Thomas was a homegrown Hurricane defensive end who grew up in Liberty City rooting for his Canes while becoming a five-star sensation at Miami Booker T. Washington High School.
He also is an accomplished musician, having concentrated his UM studies at the Frost School of Music, producing tracks for hip-hop and rap artists such as Rick Ross.
And now, Thomas is an NFL player.
On Friday night, Thomas was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the third pick of the third round— 67th overall.
Among his former teammates there, he will join last year's first-round Cleveland pick David Njoku, a tight end, as well as running back Duke Johnson.
"I swear, @MajorNine just can't seem to leave me alone man...,'' Njoku tweeted to Thomas after he was drafted. welcome to da squad brudda...'' — to which Thomas tweeted back, "Hell yea!!!"
At 6-5 and 281 pounds, with 33 1/2-inch arms that can grab the most evasive quarterbacks and runners, Thomas “has all the physical and athletic traits that a team could look for along the edge, and he’s versatile enough to play in an odd or even front,’’ according to NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein.
This past season, Thomas amassed 41 tackles and tied with defensive tackle RJ McIntosh for the team lead of 12 ½ tackles for loss. He had 5 ½ sacks, a pass breakup and three quarterback hurries.
Thomas was a five-star recruit at Booker T. But his longtime musical talents are so substantial that some NFL types reportedly worried that his mind wouldn't be totally on football. Thomas, however, has insisted that he will put everything into the sport he loves, and hopefully play a long time.
Most feel he'll have a huge upside in the NFL and will get better in the years to come.
“I gotta go get ready for the next level,’’ Thomas told reporters after UM's Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin, against which he had the Canes' only sack, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. “God blessed me to go on the next level. I’m trying to go a long time. This is my passion. This is what I love.”
No other Hurricanes were chosen Friday. The draft will continue at noon Saturday with the final fourth through seventh rounds, in which several Canes could hear their names called.
Hurricanes expected to be chosen include defensive tackles RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton, both having left UM after their junior seasons; and fellow junior running back Mark Walton. Among the other Canes expected to be drafted: receiver Braxton Berrios and tight end Chris Herndon.
Possibilities include cornerback Dee Delaney, offensive tackle/guard Kc McDermott, defensive end Trent Harris, offensive tackle/guard Trevor Darling and kicker Michael Badgley.