Recruit Spotlight: LB Tralon Thomas, Ville Platte
by Jace LeJeune
Ville Platte senior LB Tralon Thomas was born to play the game of football. His dad once played for the Southern Jaguars, and his brothers also played for Ville Platte so it was only in his blood to play football for the Bulldogs, but not only did Thomas fill those shoes, but he outgrew them. It was not a fast start for Thomas as far as it goes for a lot of great players across the state. Tralon Thomas had to work and improve every day to get where he is today. He actually started his career as a defensive end and was still trying to adjust to the high school game over his first couple of years, but it was his sophomore year that he transitioned from playing on the defensive line to playing linebacker. The transition turned out to be the right decision as everything started to click for the star Bulldogs defender. In his junior season, Thomas was basically everywhere racking up over 120 tackles including over 10 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. At 6’2, 225, Thomas has the size and speed to not only play at linebacker, but exceed at the position. There are not a lot of areas to Thomas’ game that he cannot do. Over his career, Thomas has put up some really good numbers in basically every category. He had registered over 300 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, and nine interceptions. Thomas’ ability to be everywhere on the football field and to make a game changing play, whether it would be sacking the quarterback, intercepting passes, or taking the ball away from defenders, makes a linebacker like Thomas special. The Warhawks of Louisiana Monroe saw that in the senior Ville Platte linebacker and have stuck with him in the end as Tralon Thomas will spend the next couple of years raving havoc on opposing offenses. In today’s article, we caught up with the Louisiana Monroe signee as he talked about his high school football career, the player he models his game after, the reason why he chose the Warhawks, and so much more!
LAFM: What is your name, age, position, and school you played for?
Tralon Thomas, 18, LB, Ville Platte High School
LAFM: What is your height and weight?
LAFM: What is your max bench press, max squat, vertical, and 40 yard time?
I never maxed this year because I was hurt while we did it, but my max from my junior year in bench press is 310. My squat max is 500, and the best 40 time, that I ran, was a 4.6 at LSU camp when I was a sophomore, but I got faster and stronger since then.
LAFM: What are your stats and accomplishments while at Ville Platte?
I was a four year letterman in football, a two year letterman in track, an one year letterman in basketball and power lifting. I was also a two time 1st Team All-District selection, a three time All-Parish player, 2016 Parish Defensive MVP, a 2015 All-State selection and in 2016, I was mentioned on KATC News for the Super 16. I finished my prep football career with 320 tackles, 52 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, and nine fumble recoveries.
LAFM: You have signed with ULM to continue your football career. What is it about the Warhawks that has attracted you to play football there?
I would say the recruiting with the Warhawks was the most constant I had coaches hitting me up. They contacted me everyday which showed how bad they wanted me, and when I went to visit their school, I saw how beautiful the campus was and how focused the school was on their academics so I knew that was the best place for me to play football and get my college degree. I also looked into the future with this signing class that I am getting recruited with. I believe we are ranked number one in our conference. The best thing is that we all know one another and communicate something the Warhawk coaches thought we should do, and we already have chemistry so I thought that too. All those factors played a pivotal role in making my choice to go to ULM.
LAFM: What are the biggest strengths to your game?
I would have to say first my I.Q. I’m not at a school with a big program so I would pick up clues in games on my own. The next thing is my leadership on the field. I believe in keeping a team together, helping one another, and forming a brotherhood with them. I have a very high motor which is due to my great work ethic. I am very energetic during the entire game, and that allows me to make a play. I have a physical play to my game and I never turn down hits. That’s the best part about playing linebacker. Also, I have the speed and quickness to run sideline to sideline making plays.
LAFM: What are some areas to your game that you need to improve on when you get to ULM?
I would have to say my passing coverage not because I’m not good at it, but I have the least experience in that area because most teams we played never passed the ball, but I have been working all off-season in that area so I’m confident going into college with things I’ve learned so far.
LAFM: Who is the college or NFL linebacker that you model your game after and why?
I would first say Ray Lewis (former Miami Hurricane and Baltimore Ravens LB) because he is just the perfect linebacker. He is a born leader who knows how to handle adversity and keep a team focused which is what I love. I also love to watch Luke Kuechly (former Boston College LB currently with the Carolina Panthers). I love how he is an all-around LB that can stop the run and make plays in the passing game to. He has a very high motor which reminds me of myself.
LAFM: What was your best game while at Ville Platte and why?
I actually have two games that I want to mention. The first game occurred in my junior year in the first round of the playoffs. We played the fourth ranked team in Patterson High School. It was our star players versus theirs. I accepted the challenge, and we played the underdog role in that game. I was blessed to finish this game with over 15 tackles in the beginning. It was a back and forth battle with our great defense against their explosive offense, but in the end, our offense needed the ball one more drive to score in order to win the game. I made the last three tackles. We didn’t win, but we had a chance. It’s never how you start. It’s about how you finish. However, that wasn’t my best game though. I had a game this year against Lafayette Christian in which I had over 25 tackles.
LAFM: The team had an up and down season in your senior season as the team went 5-5. What are your overall thoughts on the season overall?
I would just say that we had a couple of miscues on the offensive end, and we lost some early games in the beginning. If we had won some of the early games in the beginning, we would had a better seed and hopefully had made a run at the championship. We had a lot of talent and experience on the defensive side of the football, but we were inexperienced on the offensive side of the football. We had great leadership on the team, and the team fed off our defense. Overall, the season was a little worse than I expect it, but I have no regrets.
LAFM: Who are some of your teammates that you want to give a shout out to?
First off, I want to give a shout out to my big defensive tackle Breshonski Jones. He is going to walk-on at Southern to play football and was a great player commanding double teams, but was a great leader as well. I also want to give a shout out to Ronderkus Ben who not only played strong safety, but can basically play any position on the field. You can put him at free safety, defensive end, quarterback, etc. He was very diverse and a playmaker. The last player, that I want to give a shout out to, is Martin Jason. He was our star cornerback, and you could have put him at free safety and at any other position. He reminds me of Percy Harvin (former Florida Gators and current NFL WR). I have to credit to all these guys because they made my job easier.
LAFM: What is your advice for next year’s Ville Platte team?
I would say to them is that football is an all-year thing. We are not blessed like bigger schools so we are forced to grind it out on our own. Everybody needs to work hard and somebody needs to pick up the slack where we left off. My guys need to step up and take on the challenge. They got to be another Tralon Thomas, a Breshonski Jones, a Ronderkus Ben, or another Martin Jason. Keep improving and keep the tradition going. Play together as a team.
LAFM: What do you like to do when the football season is over?
I am a family man. I like to kick back and watch movies with my mom and dad as well as hang out with my brothers. I also love to watch sports. It’s pretty obvious that I like to watch football, but I like to watch other sports such as soccer and I like to play video games from time to time. I am your average teenager.
LAFM: What are you going to miss most about playing football at Ville Platte?
I am going to miss my teammates because they motivate me to do my best. I had to overcome a lot of adversity this year when I was hurt. I will also miss the fans for all the love and support that they give us. They have been through the ups and downs with us. I will also miss the culture there as well.
LAFM: If you had to go back and play one more game for Ville Platte, what team would you pick to play against and why?
It would be against Northwest because they beat us the last three years, and mostly every time, it came down to one play or a possession. This year, they pretty much beat us, but for my sophomore and junior year, it came down to a point or a touchdown. If I had to go back and play a team one more time, it would definitely be Northwest.
LAFM: What are your plans after your football career is over?
I am going to study health and kinesiology. I plan to be a physical therapist or an athletic trainer. I also like to motivate so I might become a coach or be involved with business. Whatever it is, I will be doing something that I love.
LAFM: Is there anybody else in your family that has played high school, college, or even professional football?
I grew up in a football family but all my brothers played football. My dad also played free safety and played at Southern, but he didn’t finish school. My brothers all played linebacker, and they were animals too so I do have a football gene.
LAFM: Who are some people in your life that has helped you be in the position that you are in today?
I want to start off with my mom. My mom asked me when I was leaving 8th grade about how serious I was playing football. I told her that I was dead serious about it and that I was going to put her in a nice apartment or a very nice house. The first thing that I had to do was get a Division I scholarship and I fulfilled that for her. She is a single parent raising four kids on her own. My dad went to Southern but didn’t finish so me playing college football will help fulfill his dream. I also want to thank my brothers and sisters who all have believed in me and pushed me to my limits.
LAFM: Why should ULM fans be excited to have you on their team next fall?
ULM fans should be excited because I am going to bring a positive vibe to the team no matter the outcome of what happens. I am willing to help out in the community and I am overall a good person. I am there to help the team win football games, and I am not going to do that by cheating the system. I am going to work hard and give it my all.