INDIANAPOLIS –Donald Thomas grew up in New Haven, Connecticut playing almost everything except football.
Thomas' mother, Veronica, told him growing up that her work schedule as an educator did not provide time to get him to Pop Warner football practice.
Thomas, a football viewer, busied himself in baseball and basketball. When he got to high school, the school fielded teams in every sport except football.
Thomas earned eight varsity letters, four as a center in basketball and four more as a pitcher and first-baseman. His size (6-4, 305) soon impacted his career at third-base negatively.
Thomas was not involved in any structured sports when he hit the University of Connecticut campus, but pickup basketball games led to meeting football players. They urged him to try out and after introducing himself to Head Coach Randy Edsall, a workout was arranged that changed Thomas' career path.
Thomas walked on with the Huskies in 2004 and redshirted. Originally trying out on the defensive line, Thomas played on special teams before finding a home at offensive guard.
Thomas excelled as a senior, earning All-Big East honors, and his mom and father, Donald, traveled to the Hula Bowl to see him play.
When Thomas was invited to play in the East-West Game, Veronica sensed her son's talent and green-lighted him to chase a football dream.
Thomas was a 2008 sixth-round pick of Miami, where he started 13-of-17 games before stopping briefly in Detroit in 2010 and joining New England a year later.
Having started seven games at left guard and 14 on the right side, Thomas looks forward to the chance of contributing in Indianapolis.
"I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career," said Thomas. "I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape.
"I feel like we have a really great team here, and it's on the rise. I really wanted to become a part of that."
Growing up in the New England area, Thomas had known of the Colts-Patriots series before he participated in it. For all the emotions the rivalry has provoked, Thomas maintained an even keel.
"Just growing up you saw the rivalry between the two (teams)," said Thomas. "I don't know the (full) details of it or the history of it, but I just knew that was a big game on the calendar. It is what it is.
"I'm familiar to it already, so that takes that element out of it. Now, I'm on the other side of the fence. You've just got to go out there and compete. I plan to do that every week. When it comes it comes and we'll treat it like another game and compete and play to win."
Thomas shared a huddle with Tom Brady and a potent New England offense the last two seasons. Both years led to playoff berths, as did his first season with Miami. He hopes to continue that streak with the Colts. Doing so could provide Thomas with his first taste of post-season action.
Thomas is a player Ryan Grigson says is on the uptick. Thomas shares the same feeling about Indianapolis and is ready to contribute.
"I'm a hard worker. I haven't had the glorified roles, so to speak," said Thomas. "I pride myself on being a quality offensive lineman – run blocking, pass protecting and opening up holes. Protecting the quarterback is the name of the game. That's truly the thing that I really pride my game on."