When NC State began football practice on July 31, a lot of eyes were on the two players who adorned No. 6. Both quarterback Pete Thomas and safety Tim Buckley were newcomers to the Wolfpack, and everyone was interested in seeing what the two transfers could do.
The 6-foot-5, 225 pound Thomas definitely looks the part and the former four-star recruit didn't disappoint. After starting for two years at Colorado State, a coaching change was made and the El Cajon, Cal., native decided to look elsewhere to continue his career. Although he's new to the east coast, he is settling in well.
"It's been really good, ever since I got here in May," he said. "I think the transition has gone real well. I couldn't be more excited to be here and I'm looking forward to watching the team play this year.
"I'm trying to be a good teammate and support Mike [Glennon] and Manny [Stocker] in any way possible. I really like it here, the guys on the team are awesome and the coaches are awesome."
In addition to his new surroundings in a place he's never lived before, Thomas will also have to adjust to watching the game from the sidelines for the first time in his college career. He enrolled at CSU early, and immediately won the starting gig for the Rams, but he has to sit out this fall due to NCAA transfer rules. Fortunately for the signal caller, who totaled 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air in his first two years, the 2012 season will count as his redshirt campaign.
"[Sitting out] will definitely be tough, but I think in the end, it will work out good," he said. "I couldn't be at a better place than I am right here.
"You can't play this game if you're not self-motivated and a competitor. I try to be very self-motivated, and I think that's what will keep me going."
Thomas noted that the NC State offense is similar to the offense he ran at his last college, but the terminology is different, which is something he's working to get down. He also understands the coaches have to focus on getting Glennon and Stocker ready for this season in fall camp, so he's been getting more of a mental workout than anything.
"I can't play this year, so any reps I do get, I'm excited for," he said. "I just try to get a lot of mental reps during practice.
"I'm always learning something, though. Even guys that have been in the NFL for 10-12 years are still learning stuff. I still have a lot of stuff to learn, and I'm learning new stuff every day from Coach [Dana] Bible and Mike. I feel like I'm picking the offense up really well. Mike has been helping me out a lot. Coach Bible has been helping me and his track record obviously speaks for itself."
Bible, the Pack's offensive coordinator, was actually one of the main reasons that Thomas chose NC State. The team honed in on the gun slinger coming out of high school in 2010 and, although they eventually lost that race, he came away impressed by Bible and head coach Tom O'Brien.
"[Playing for Bible] is a great opportunity," he said. "Ever since I met Coach Bible in high school, I've been really impressed with him and he's a great coach. He gets on you, but he just wants the best for you. He's been doing this a long time and definitely knows his stuff. He has an unlimited knowledge of football and this offense. I can't wait to play for him and learn from him over the next three years.
"It's really ironic how everything worked out, but I guess everything happens for a reason. I couldn't be more excited playing for Coach O'Brien and Coach Bible. I couldn't ask for better teammates, either."
After the redshirt year is complete, Thomas will have two years of eligibility remaining. However, his main job this fall will be directing the scout team offense and going up against a loaded secondary every day in practice. It didn't take long for him to take notice of No. 1 in the opposite color jersey, All-American cornerback David Amerson.
"Aside from just seeing him play last year on TV, I could tell in the first one-on-one," Thomas said when asked when he could first tell how talented Amerson was. "Once I got out there and saw him covering guys, I knew how good he was.
"Once I do start working with the scout team and going against our defense, I'm definitely going to test myself and try to make myself better. I'll be going against one of the best secondaries in the country, and it can only help going against that type of competition and guys who have been doing it that long."