Chabot defensive back Thomas leads by example

Chabot College defensive back Lakevion Thomas (Courtesy Chabot College Athletics)
Chabot College defensive back Lakevion Thomas (Courtesy Chabot College Athletics)

By Phil Jensen, Special to Chabot Athletics

HAYWARD, Calif. - 

It’s less than 20 miles from Oakland to Hayward, but it’s been a marathon of a journey for Chabot College 23-year-old football player Lakevion Thomas Jr.

The journey actually started in Tucson, Arizona, where Thomas began playing Pop Warner football as an 8-year-old. He eventually won a national championship with the Tucson All-Stars youth football team in 2008.

Thomas moved to Oakland in eighth grade, but only played football one year in high school, and it was his sophomore season at Oakland Tech. He proceeded to attend two different schools in two years.
 
“School and I didn’t mix when I was younger,” he said. “I was only into football. I got into a stage of being defiant and not wanting to be around school.”
 
What followed were years that Thomas described as “a dark time”.
 
“I had to break away from a lot of stuff. I was born and raised around lots of gang violence,” he said. “I couldn’t focus. I didn’t know what I wanted.”
 
In 2015, he went to a GED program and met his current girlfriend Annecea Ward.
 
“She helped me a lot,” he said. “She said ‘what do you want to do?’”
 
Thomas started training with friends Kevin King (who now plays for the Green Bay Packers) and Antoine Albert, who played for Diablo Valley College and Cal. Thomas planned on grey-shirting at DVC, but did not end up playing there, as he had consistent transportation issues getting from Oakland to the Pleasant Hill campus. So Thomas decided to go to Chabot, which didn’t recruit him. He also decided on a position change from running back to cornerback and nickelback, with a focus on reaching the National Football League.
 
“I love to tackle. I love to hit. At corner, I will be able to last a long time,” he said.
 
In 2016, in addition to being a nickel back, Thomas made a huge impact on special teams.
 
“He really embraced that role,” said Chabot coach Eric Fanene, who also remarked how all the coaches loved his effort and that his name “just kept coming up on how to do things.”
 
“I had to realize, in college, everybody was ‘that guy’” said Thomas, referring to high school football status. “Anytime I was on the field, I would make it count. Whatever you need me to do, I will do it … I love football. I love every part of it. You’ve got to be coachable. You have to be able to take criticism … You have to take every play like it’s the last. You can’t take a play off.”
 
This season, he has been a starting cornerback. The 5-foot-8, 185-pound sophomore isn’t backing away from opposing receivers.
 
“I love the underdog part about it. People think they can pass on me because of my height. I feel I can jump high,” said Thomas. “You will have to put it in a good spot to pass it over me. You’ve got to be a dog at the position. You have to be like ‘There’s no one allowed on this island. If you get on the island, you have to pay the toll.’”
 
“He’s very aggressive on the line… He’s tenacious, he won’t give up,” said Fanene. “He’s very fast-twitch. When he reads something, he gets there quickly”
 
Thomas said that he wants to play at the next level, and he also wants to give back to his community.
 
“I think the biggest part of poverty is that you have nothing to hang onto, nothing to look forward to,” he said. “People pass away now, and I can’t find the tears to cry because It’s a normal thing … it’s not really normal. I want to make sure people know there’s something worth living for.”

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