Humble over hype: Auburn DB leaning on faith during COVID-19

Humble over hype: Auburn DB leaning on faith during COVID-19
(Source: Auburn Athletics)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Auburn defensive back Daniel Thomas has never made excuses on the football field.

“I came to Lee probably 5′5”, 150 pounds," he said. “I was small, but my coach always told me to take the weight room seriously. Around my sophomore or junior year I started taking football seriously. That’s when I really started putting in that extra work and a lot of it started paying off.”

By his senior year, Daniel was one of the best defensive backs in the state, picking up major offers from around the country. But it was a phone call from Gus Malzahn that helped solidify his future in football, and it happened on one of the most important days in his career.

“I got offered the day of (National) Signing Day. (Auburn) offered me at 7:00 that morning.”

It was a sign of his unwavering faith.

“It was a blessing, and a dream come true,” said Daniel. “I wanted to stay close to home, and I wanted to play in the SEC. Growing up, I wanted to play at Alabama, but you know, things change, and I got a chance to play at one of the best historical programs in the nation, so I thank God for that.”

Now, with less than a month until the 2020 NFL Draft, Daniel is leaning on that same faith to carry him even through times as tough as the coronavirus breakout.

“I mean, actually it’s been better for me because I don’t have to go to school, I can just do everything online. I don’t have to worry about going to the classroom, I can just be here and go back to Auburn if I need to, so it’s been a blessing honestly.”

Through everything, he’s allowed God to lead the way.

“I know I’m not called to my own. I was called to a higher purpose as a kid - God put a calling on my life as a youth growing up, so I just tried to use football as a platform for Christ,” said Daniel. “People see me and probably think I’m perfect, but I’m not, I’m far from it. I just try to be consistent in everything I do and just let God live through me, and let my light shine.”

But it’s not just words from the Good Book he carries. Daniel said his Guardian Angels have helped along the way, and he wants to continue to carry the legacy of his fallen friends Shaquille Johnson and Rod Scott throughout his journey on the gridiron.

“I got them right here. They’re always on my phone. Me and Shaquille Johnson grew up together, I met Rod in middle school, but they were some great athletes,” said Daniel. “They really paved the way for a lot of people. Those guys, very humble guys - you never saw them in trouble, they did everything the right way, and once they passed, it kinda built me up, like I had to do it for them too, so that’s a chip on my shoulder I carry as well.”

His path hasn’t always been easy; however, holding on to his greater purpose is what keeps the defensive back going as he eagerly waits for Roger Goodell to call his name.

“It’s gonna be a release, a milestone competed honestly so all the praise is gonna go to God always,” said Daniel. “I’ve heard plenty of people tell me that I couldn’t do what I’m doing today, so I always turned the negative energy into positive energy. Whenever someone tells me I can’t do something, I prove them wrong. Humble overhype; that’s why I wear this band here.”

Faith, hope and humility all leading Daniel down the right path to achieve his dreams.

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