Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
It's time to meet the newest wide receiver on the New York Jets
The New York Jets have signed Thomas Mayo, a second-year wide receiver out of Division-II California University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Mayo spent last year's training camp with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent before being one of their final cuts. He is 6'2", 211lbs., and runs a 4.53 40-yard dash with a 39" vertical leap. Mr. Mayo's nickname is "No Days Off" for the reasons listed by Silver and Black Pride.
One theme that Thomas kept repeating was competition, a topic that will sure jive well with General Manager John Idzik's mantra of increasing competition all over the team. Thomas wants to be known as the guy that competes every play, every day. He truly wants to take "No Days Off."
When I watched Thomas' film, my immediate reaction was that Thomas loves to "pluck" the ball out of the air in an often acrobatic style. He catches with his hands, not his body, which is an important trait for a wide receiver to have. Thomas attributed this to his competitive nature. "I hate to lose in whatever I'm doing. Years after I'm done playing I want to be remembered by how much I competed no matter the circumstance," he said. On the other hand, Thomas acknowledged that he needs to work on his knowledge of the game and route running, which will come with experience.
Another attribute of Thomas that sticks out is his size. At 6'2", he is the same height as his two inspirations, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. Thomas talked about how, like Irvin and Bryant, he likes to be physical. Like Irvin, Thomas enjoys going across the middle, and like Bryant, he loves contact and his blocking ability.
I talked to Thomas about his workout with the Jets, and I was surprised that every coach, including Rex Ryan, was there. Idzik was as well, so Thomas felt the pressure of showing off his best. After doing game day routine throw up, Thomas had a great workout and impressed the coaches enough that they told him so themselves after he was done.
I had the chance to ask Thomas about his brief stint with the Raiders. He wanted to make it clear that he wasn't interested in throwing anyone under the bus, or making past excuses, but he confirmed a report that he and Wide Receivers Coach Ted Gilmore simply did not get along, and he was frozen out. All Thomas is focused on now is becoming "the next best thing in New York." Although he said that he has the game against the Raiders this coming season circled about fifty times, he's just focused on training camp right now. In his words, "They definitely made a mistake and will regret the decision." You can tell that Thomas has a chip on his shoulder and desperately wants to prove the Raiders wrong for cutting him.
After Thomas was cut, it was a tough period for him, as it would be for anyone. To be so close, yet so far, from your dream, and to have it taken from you is brutal. I don't think that casual fans of the NFL can understand what it's like to be in that position, so I asked Thomas what life was like after that. Here's the story, in his own words:
It was hard, it was tough, I haven't slept right in about five-to-six months, a lot of aches and pains, and sleepless nights. But I always told myself that it could be worse and that it can and will get better. This was probably the hardest thing I ever been through in my life. There were the good days and there were the bad days. There were a lot of days when I would just cry out of frustration because I put way too much work into making it and I felt like I wasn't given a chance to showcase what I can really do and I felt like everything I put into this was just ripped away from me by the Raiders. The feeling of disappointing so many people, especially the ones who are very close to me, is a feeling I can never forget because it hurt so bad and that's what drives me everyday to never feel that way again. But through it all I continued to grind no matter what. I didn't know if I was going to get a call or not but if and when I did I wanted to be ready. I worked out EVERY DAY. Not knowing my future but it didn't matter because I knew that all i needed was a shot and the Jets gave me the opportunity.
Now, it's time for Thomas to back his words up and prove that he deserves the opportunity. In the words of Bart Scott, quoted by Thomas, he "Can't Wait" to show us what he's got.
Read more about Mayo here.
You can follow Mayo on Twitter at @ThomasMayo1.