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THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2007
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Thomas eager to help UAB rise
Decatur High product in Mobile to show his all-star talent

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com · 340-2462

MOBILE — Caleb Thomas has ideas about his future at UAB as big as his 6-foot-3, 295-pound body.

When you’re playing football at the NCAA Division IA level, that’s not such a bad thing.

Then again, maybe he’s just taking a cue from his new coach.

“I think the future is bright at UAB,” said Thomas, who is in Mobile to play in the 20th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic

“Coach (Neil) Callaway, he’s always upbeat. He’s ready to get UAB on the rise.”

Thomas, a Decatur High standout, said he expects to vie for a spot, if not a starting role, in the rotation at offensive line as a college freshman.

He has some experience and honors that say he might just do it.

As a senior, he was a Wendy’s High School Heisman Award nominee. He is a two-time all-state honorable mention winner. And he played in the North-South All-Star Game after his junior season.

That’s not to mention the talent he’ll play with and against Saturday in Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Alabama alone boasts more than 20 college football signees on its roster.

“It kind of gets you ready for college,” Thomas said. “These guys are going everywhere to college. I start next week, so it gets me ready for that transition to going into a college program.”

Thomas is one of five players from either Decatur or Athens. Rolando McClain also is representing Decatur.

Alfred McCullough, Jacquez Pride and Karlos Jones are from Athens.

Having McClain in Mobile is helping make things easier for Thomas, he said.

“It helps a lot to be down here and know somebody like him,” Thomas said. “I’m lucky to have somebody from my team.”

McClain agreed: “Caleb is a good athlete, a good lineman. He’s probably my best friend.”

Thomas makes up an offensive line that team head coach Bill Clark really likes, pretty heady stuff coming from the man who coached Prattville to a Class 6A state title this year over powerhouse Hoover.

“I’m really excited about the offensive line,” Clark said. “We’ve come into this game and thought, ‘Oh, Lord. If we can just block them.’ We’re still going to need to block them; it’s not going to be easy. But he’s one of a good group of offensive linemen. We think that’s a strong suit this year.”

Thomas was elected as a permanent captain as a senior. He said the rewards he’s reaping now didn’t come without hard work.

“It’s awesome to be down here, and it’s an awesome achievement,” Thomas said. “It shows through hard work in high school what you can achieve.”

And his goal this week?

“Do well and get back in the motions,” Thomas said. “Oh, and I want to beat Mississippi.

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