Boonville senior running back Avian Thomas knew from the time that he stepped on campus that he was going to be a Jackrabbit at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota.
Thomas made it official Wednesday in front of family and friends at the media center at Boonville High School.
Thomas said he chose SDSU because they made him feel most at home. “That was the most important thing to me,” Thomas said.
South Dakota State University football coach John Stiegelmeier said the Jackrabbits are excited to have Avian join the SDSU football family. “He brings with him great work ethic and football ability, Stiegelmeier said. “He can do everything we ask of our running backs. On top of that, he is an unbelievable person. He will Make A Difference!”
A three-year starter for the Pirates, Thomas finished his career with over 4,600 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns. This past season, Thomas rushed for 1,846 yards on 207 carries and 26 touchdowns to lead Boonville. He also had 13 receptions for 191 yards and two scores along with two kick off returns for touchdowns and one interception for a touchdown.
Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said Thomas is a very gifted athlete that  will leave a lasting impression on Boonville football.
“Not only was he one of our most talented athletes but he displayed great characteristics that effected others this year and will be an example to follow for years to come,” Hough said. “He has been blessed with a great opportunity to continue his career as a student athlete at the Division 1 level. Avian himself would say that many people had a role in this opportunity for him, but at the end of the day his play on the field and his work in the classroom is what truly made this dream come true. By committing to play football and continue his education new challenges will face Avian. There will be good times and tough times in his future, hopefully Avian continues to build on his foundation his teachers, coaches and self has molded at BHS. We all wish Avian the best of luck, we are proud of him and GO JACKRABBITS.”
A two-time all-state, all-district and all-conference selection for Boonville, Thomas was also named to the KMZU Dream Team and KRES All-Star Team for the 2019 season.
Of course nobody had a bigger impact on the team than Thomas. While finishing with over eight 100-yard games this past season, Thomas also had two 300 yard games and broke the school record for rushing yards in a single game with 371 against Versailles. He also had five touchdowns in that game.
Thomas said the highlight of his career would be during the off season going into his junior year and having camps for the kids and just being a role model. “That really made me feel like I made an impact on someone’s life,” Thomas said. “As a team, the biggest highlight is winning our first hosted district playoff game.”
Although Thomas has been playing football since seventh grade, he said to play at the next level he will need to improve himself physically and run blocking.
As for his short term goal at SDSU, Thomas said he wants to earn his position as a player and leader in the offense. Meanwhile, long term, Thomas said he wants to win a national championship.
As for the biggest influence on him playing football, Thomas said his uncle, Mike, because he made him love the grind. “We worked hard when the lights were off, so when the light came on, we were ready to compete,” Thomas said.
In addition to SDSU, Thomas said he was also looking at the University of Missouri in Columbia, University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and Missouri Western in St. Joseph.
As far as what Thomas will miss the most about playing at Boonville High School, he said he will miss his teammates and coaching staff.