Blake Thomas played a key role in bringing the Eastern football program back to prominence. Now, he will look to help another program on the rise.
The Comets’ multi-faceted back inked a letter of intent Wednesday to continue his career and education at Marian University, an NAIA school in Indianapolis.
“It shows that [the Eastern] program is something, and that we do develop players,” Thomas said. “Going from 1-9 to 7-3, working hard every summer — there were no breaks in between. We went all out and came together. There’s really no other feeling like it. Now, I want to help Marian win a national championship at the NAIA level.”
Thomas was a Kokomo Tribune All-Area performer this past season as a senior. He ran for 1,082 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 25 catches for 503 yards and six more TDs.
He also returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, and added another score on a blocked punt return, helping the Comets average a school-record 41.5 points per game this season. Eastern finished the year 7-3, the program’s best mark since 1984.
“You could see it this year that Blake made a huge commitment to himself to become a more durable football player,” Eastern coach Josh Edwards said. “As our season went on, he became the guy that we really looked to, and put the football in his hands when we needed something to happen. We, as a coaching staff, probably should’ve given him the ball more.
“He was a guy who dedicated himself as an eighth grader when I got here, and still hasn’t let up.”
A program just five seasons old, Marian has risen to national prominence in a short time under the direction of coach Ted Karras Jr. The Knights went 12-1 in 2011 and lost in NAIA semifinals after finishing 10-3 in 2010, falling in the NAIA quarterfinals. Thomas will join local products Tanner Barton (Northwestern), Jake Rouch (Cass), Taylor Maxey (Tipton) and Dylan Green (Kokomo) on the Knights’ roster.
“Going in, there is a lot of talent at that university,” Edwards said. “Coach Karras is very excited to have Blake, and he’ll be playing on the offensive side of the ball, starting off as a running back and maybe moving around some. Blake’s goal is to go in as a freshman and contribute in some way, whether it be on special teams or on the offense. It’s a great opportunity for him to go in and have a chance to win a conference championship, and possibly even a national championship.”