For four season Thomas Austin helped lead the Clemson offensive line. Now he hopes to land a job in the National Football League. TheClemsonInsider.com caught up with the former Tiger offensive line standout as he prepared for his first day of camp on Friday with the Minnesota Vikings.
“I am in Minnesota right now. I flew in yesterday and we took a bus to Minnesota State where we do camp. We start camp tomorrow,” said Austin.
Thomas has been preparing for this since the Tigers victory in the Music City bowl.
“Summer has gone well. The last time I put on pads was the bowl game. In January I went and trained in Atlanta. Then I went off to the East West game. Before Pro Day I came back to Clemson. After Pro Day I took a week off. Then I worked out for the draft. About two weeks after the draft I got flown up to Minnesota. I did the rookie camp and then we had some time off. Then I came back for five weeks to do organized team activities, then went to mini camp. We finished on June 18 and have been working out on our own since then,” said Austin.
Life in the National Football League has already been different than life at Clemson.,br>
“It has been different. It is all or nothing. We are on for five weeks, then we are off for five weeks. It has been a tedious process,” said Austin.
After working out for months, Thomas is eager to put the pad on and hit someone.
“It has been a long time since I put pads on so I am ready to get out there in pads,” said Austin.
Conditioning won’t be a problem as camp begins on Thursday.
“I feel like I am in good shape. They gave us a program and I was able to stick to it. I was able to workout with some of the guys from the team. I feel good about my conditioning. The good thing about Minnesota is you don’t have to worry about the heat. Right now it is about 82 or 83,” said Austin.
The biggest adjustment to the NFL will be the speed of the game and the work required in the classroom.
“I am sure it will be a bit of an adjustment when we get to practice. There will be a difference in the speed of the game. We do installation in the first two days. It is going to require a lot of studying,” said Austin.
Of course the question he hears every day is will Brett Favre come back this year.
“I get asked that every day. If I knew I would tell people. I hope he comes back. Ever since I remember I was a fan of his. There is a bit of a shock factor when you run into guys like Adrian Peterson and Sydney Rice,” said Austin.
Thomas is pleased to have a shot to start his NFL career with the Vikings.
“I really like the team and the organization as a whole. We have a great coaching staff,” said Austin.
Although he was disappointed not to be drafted, it may have worked to his advantage.
“The good thing about being a free agent is you get to pick the best fit. At the end of the draft there were about six or seven teams that had offered and I felt like Minnesota was the best fit,” said Austin.
Thomas has kept in touch with his former teammates who also begin camp this week.
“I was texting today with Michael Palmer and Kevin Alexander. Everyone is starting camp around the same time. I was back for a couple of weeks to train with Tyler Grisham and Anthony Waters,” said Austin.