Ky Thomas, RB, 5-11, 185, Topeka
The Kansas Football Coaches Association picked their All-State teams December 8th and 9th, including their Top 11. Kansas Pregame is providing capsules for each of the Top 11 selections. Check out Topeka running back Ky Thomas' capsule below, and head to the KFBCA website for details on the annual coaching clinic coming up January 31st and February 1st.
The clinic will include Kansas State University head coach Chris Klieman as the keynote speaker and a ceremony welcoming the first ever Hall of Fame class along with several other college and high school speakers discussing program development and football strategy.
Ky Thomas, RB, 5-11, 185, Topeka
Not only are the Minnesota Golden Gophers getting one of the best football players ever to come out of the Topeka area, but they are getting one of the most accomplished players in Kansas high school football history.
Ky Thomas owns every Topeka High rushing and touchdown record in school history. After rushing for 3,009 yards and 35 touchdowns this season, he became the first Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year to reign from the Topeka area in football. Thomas was also named the Max Preps Player of the year for the state of Kansas.
Thomas is a four-year starter and rushed for at least 1,250 yards every year he was in high school. His 7,703 career yards are second all time in Kansas high school history behind Wichita Collegiate’s DeAngelo Evans who playded in the mid-90s and went on to play for the University of Nebraska and Emporia State.
In his final season with Topeka, Thomas helped lead the Trojans to a 10-2 record. Topeka played Derby as close as anyone did all season, but fell to the Panthers in the 6A Sub-State championship, 63-35. Topeka rode Thomas in that game to the tune of 366 yards on 49 attempts.
Thomas graduated early and will be on campus to participate in spring practice with the Golden Gophers, a team that enjoyed a breakout season behind third year coach P.J. Fleck. Minnesota finished 11-2 and beat Auburn in the Outback Bowl. The 10 regular season wins were the most for the Gophers since 1905.
Topeka High coach Walt Alexander on Thomas: “Ky is truly a gifted athlete that has the combination of great power and elusiveness. He became a better football player this year and had his best games against our toughest competition. What I'm most proud of is the way he matured into a leader and great teammate this year. He will only continue to improve as he moves on to college; we have been very blessed to have Ky come through our program.”
Check out Thomas' highlights from his record breaking senior year below:
Thomas was featured on the cover of last fall's Kansas Pregame Football Preview. Check out Conor Nicholl's "Big Men On Campus" feature from that issue below:
Topeka High senior running back Ky Thomas is the state’s No. 3 prospect by 247 Sports, a recruiting industry leader. He is ranked as the nation’s 30th best running back. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Thomas has verbally committed to the University of Minnesota.
Head coach P.J. Fleck was so enamored with Thomas that the Golden Gophers have said the Trojan will be Minnesota’s only running back taken for the 2020 signing class. As well, Minnesota has collected a commitment from Bishop Miege wide receiver Daniel Jackson, the state’s No. 2 prospect.
“It was just a perfect place,” Thomas said of Minnesota.
Thomas rushed for 1,272 yards as a freshman, 1,771 yards as a sophomore and collected 1,651 last season. He is on pace to break the all-time city of Topeka rushing record of 5,598 yards held by Dan Davis, a ’99 Hayden graduate. Thomas’ father, Tobian, is the Trojans running backs coach and a longtime influential youth football coach in the Topeka area.
“He is a great football player, that’s the only way you can describe it,” Topeka coach Walt Alexander said. “He just has a knack for it. Things you can’t teach. The ability to make people miss, and he’s physical, and he has that ability to lower his pads at the right time.”
However, in Alexander’s eyes, running back might not even be Thomas’ best position – or perhaps his second-best spot.
“He can do it all,” Alexander said. “He is a very intelligent football player.”
As a freshman, Thomas first started at wide receiver, because Topeka High has several seniors who were solid in the backfield.
“He may be just as good a receiver if not better receiver than he is a running back,” Alexander said. “He has tremendous hands and great footwork.”
In the first game versus Hayden, Thomas delivered five carries for 103 yards and a score.
“We found out he was probably one of the better backs we have ever had here as a freshman,” Alexander said.
Quarterback Corey Thomas, an Emporia State signee, suffered injury throughout the season, and Ky moved to quarterback. In a game against Manhattan, Thomas played quarterback and rushed for 120 yards and three scores against the 9-1 Indians.
“Those expectations were sky high for the people I was replacing,” Ky said.
He finished the season with more than 1,950 yards of total offense and 20 offensive scores passing, rushing and receiving.
The 2016 freshman class includes several current four-year starting quarterbacks, including Maur Hill’s Jack Caudle and Chanute’s Ty Bowman, along with Miege star running back Brison Cobbins. No Kansas 11-Man freshman provided numbers like Thomas that season.
Thomas also played defense and served as a returner. Alexander said Thomas had “such an amazing impact” his freshman year. Topeka finished 5-4, scored 33.9 points a game and permitted 19.3.
“I was just so hard on him,” Alexander said.
The last two years, the Trojans have rested Thomas on defense, except toward the end of last season. Topeka has posted 8-2 and 9-2 marks and tallied 47.8 and 45.5 points per game the last two falls.
The Trojans’ fast-paced, no-huddle attack led 6A in scoring offense last year.
However, the defense has been statistically worse than ’16 with a combined tally of 21.1 points allowed in ’17-18 combined. This year, Alexander has already decided to start Thomas at free safety.
“He is a heckuva defensive player, too, and he may be a better free safety than he is the others,” Alexander said.
Topeka High returns quarterback Da’Vonshai Harden, a three-year starter and a close friend of Thomas for many years. Harden has committed to KU. Topeka’s defense features several talented transfers, along with senior defensive lineman Troy James.
“They are all seniors,” Alexander said. “They have all played a lot of football. We are really excited defensively this year. I think this could be the best defense we’ve had in a long time, maybe if not the best if they all come together.”
Topeka High has reached the quarterfinals in ’12 and ’18. The lone semifinal trip is ’73. The Trojans have never played in a state championship game.
“While we haven’t kicked that door down yet to win a state title, I think that’s the only thing we haven’t done yet, but I think this year we have a shot to be really good,” Alexander said. “Everything looks good on paper.”
Thomas is the oldest of four children with two brothers and one sister, Talayah, the starting point guard as a freshman for the Class 6A state runner-up squad. She averaged 7.6 points and a team-high 2.7 assists in the winter.
Their father is from Utica, N.Y. and played college football at Washburn. Ky has enjoyed serving as a role model for his family and his brother’s friends.
“He just gravitates toward people, and he has that smile,” Alexander said.
Alexander, 79-48 entering his 14th season with the Trojans, called the whole Thomas family “great.” Tobian has coached well-known Topeka High players such as Mike McCoy and Teven Jenkins in the youth ranks. McCoy played for Kansas State, and Jenkins is a starting offensive lineman at Oklahoma State.
In Topeka Public Schools USD 501, junior high students can chose where they want to attend high school, including Topeka High, Topeka West and Highland Park. Unlike many school districts, Topeka High has no junior high program teaching the same philosophies as the high schoolers.
Alexander has long appreciated Tobian’s coaching for future Topeka High products. Ky has often talked to McCoy and Jenkins throughout the years and chose Topeka High.
“It was just easy for me to go ahead and make that decision,” Ky said.
Ky quickly earned Division I offers and eventually had five: Louisiana Tech, KU, K-State, Iowa and Minnesota. At first, Thomas was not planning on going to Minnesota. However, Fleck, one of the youngest coaches in Division I and known for his confidence and charisma, convinced Thomas to come on a visit.
Thomas was impressed from the first conversation with Fleck. Thomas spent two days in Minnesota, met personally with Fleck and watched a practice. Iowa was his second choice.
“He said, ‘If you come to Minnesota, and you don’t like the city and you don’t like the facilities and you don’t like our coaching staff, you don’t ever have to answer my texts again,’” Thomas said. “He was that confident in everything.”