EAGAN, Minn. – Duke Thomas joined a new locker room but was welcomed by familiar faces.
Thomas signed with Minnesota in April after spending time in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, where he played for the San Antonio Commanders. When the Vikings inked Thomas to a deal, they also signed his Commanders teammate, safety Derron Smith.
Thomas also reunited in the Vikings secondary with former Texas standouts Holton Hill and Kris Boyd.
The three overlapped during the Longhorns’ 2015 season.
“It’s awesome,” Thomas said. “My mom actually called me [Tuesday] and I was talking to her, I was just telling her how fun it is to have Holton and Kris in the room again, because I had them my senior year back at Texas. It’s a lot of fun to have my young boys back around.
“It always makes things easier when you go someplace new and you have someone there that you already know,” Thomas added. “There’s a lot of familiar faces.”
After completing Organized Team Activities, minicamp and now partially through Verizon Vikings Training Camp, Thomas said he is feeling good in the system and comfortable with his new teammates.
“I’m just having a lot of fun right now,” he said with a smile.
Thomas is grateful to learn under a former DBs coach in Head Coach Mike Zimmer, along with the expertise of the Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, who also happens to be a former Longhorn.
Gray played at Texas from 1981-84 before going on to a successful NFL career that spanned nine seasons.
“Coach Gray is awesome,” Thomas said. “He knows the game, and every day he’s telling me something new about a new concept, teaching me the press technique. Just all-around, he’s a great football coach.”
Here are three other topics Thomas covered with Vikings.com:
1. What have you learned from Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes so far?
“Those boys are good role models. They’re good people to follow behind. Watching them play, they’ve got the technique down, so I’ve been watching tape on them and then watching guys prior [that] Coach had been showing me. It’s really good.”
2. What was your most memorable game or moment at Texas?
“Anytime we’d go up against OU and that Red River Rivalry game, that’s always a good game to be a part of.
“And also, one game I will always remember is that first game my freshman year, West Virginia had just gotten into the conference, we played and went against Geno Smith and Tavon [Austin], and that was an electrifying game.”
3. What is something non-football related that is on your bucket list?
“Man, I want to skydive, to be honest. I really don’t know why, but I want to have that experience.”
Are you an adrenaline junky?
“It’s just something I want to try. I wouldn’t really call myself an adrenaline junky, because I’m not one to even ride roller coasters. But skydiving, I definitely want to try that.”