Filling big shoes: Caydin Thomas has stepped up for the LaGrange backfield

Published 8:30 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

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Sophomore Caydin Thomas has had to fill some big shoes for the LaGrange football team this year. 

The young Granger has stepped up for an injury-riddled running back room to lead the team in rushing through the first two weeks.

“[Coach Matt Napier] told me this was my chance to show them what I’m made of and show what them what I can do,” Thomas said. “I showed some of my ability, but not all of it.

“I’m still working with the line and building chemistry with those guys.”

Thomas knew that his role would expand going into this season but did not expect to see this much action from the start.

“No, I didn’t expect this because this is my first time really playing with the varsity,” Thomas said. “I’ve been able to showcase my moves and everything I’m capable of, and I have an experienced line in front of me that allowed me to get to work.”

The veteran laden offensive line helps the young running back feel more comfortable following his blocks and finding the open holes.  

“All of them have different skills where I can read what they are doing and get the job done,” Thomas said. “We have a lot skilled guys in front of me.”

LaGrange was down both Malachi Fannin-Render and Jonathan Keys in week one and in stepped Thomas, who took 17 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. The rest of the team combined for 15 carries for eight yards against Carver (Atlanta).

Thomas set the tone for his hot start to the season on the Grangers’ first offensive play, taking it 37 yards for a touchdown.

“I saw my blocks being set up and I was able to be patient and read them and I was able to execute the play as we drew it up,” Thomas said. 

Week two saw the return of Keys, but Thomas had just as many carries as the junior (10). Thomas also scored on the opening drive for the Grangers for the second week running when he plunged into the end zone from one yard out.

It has been a meteoric rise for Thomas, who got his first varsity action in week one. It was not an overnight success story, he put in a on of work to get here. 

“I did a lot of work over the summer with my middle school coach (Nick) Griffin,” Thomas said. “He always believed in me, so every Sunday this summer we were working together.”

There was no position change over the years for Thomas; he has been a running back since rec league. 

Through two weeks, Thomas has 27 carries for 140 yards, 15 more carries and 37 yards more yards than the next highest Grangers. His two rushing touchdowns are also as many as the rest of the team combined. 

Even with Keys returning to full health and senior speedster Gavin Barlow getting plenty of touches, expect Thomas to stay apart of the running back rotation as he has earned his spot as part of a dynamic trio.

“He really stepped up,” Napier said of Thomas last week. “ He got thrown into the fire and really responded. We didn’t have many of them that took care of the ball the way they were supposed to, but Caydin was one of them.”