Stanford's talks Beyoncé, the Cardinal's showdown with Washington, more
He scores touchdowns, likes to dance to Beyoncé and enjoys studying his dreams. Stanford's Solomon Thomas isn't your average defensive lineman. Before Thomas and the rest of the No. 8 Cardinal square off against No. 10 Washington in Seattle on Friday night, Thomas chatted with Campus Rush.
Lindsay Schnell: First off, take me through your touchdown last week against UCLA.
Solomon Thomas: That was crazy. I was just in the right place in the right time, coaches drew up the perfect play and [linebacker] Joey [Alfieri] did this pass rush move. He had a great strip sack, and I ended up in the right place and picked up the ball and ran to the end zone and was going crazy. It was awesome.
LS: Anytime a lineman scores, it's referred to as a "fat guy touchdown." How do you feel about that?
ST: [Laughs] I'm fine with that. I've gone through the fat years and the process of getting rid of the fat. I'm still a fat guy at heart. It's awesome to score as a lineman, and it doesn't happen too often so anytime it does, you just have to cherish it.
LS: Do you know what the Piesman Trophy is? Because I think you're one of the leading candidates now.
ST: I do not know what the Piesman is …
LS: SB Nation started it and they give it to linemen who score unexpectedly, basically. (Editor's note: The Piesman's official Twitter bio reads, "College football's first trophy honoring linemen who do decidedly un-linemen things.") They hold a ceremony in New York City the same week as the Heisman but because it's the Piesman, you get to eat pie. Because linemen like pie.
ST: That's so awesome. I love pie!
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LS: Keep your fingers crossed and maybe you can be one of two Cardinal players in New York in December. Speaking of the other one, what makes Christian McCaffrey so good?
ST: His approach—to film, to treatment, to practice—is different than anyone else's. He's on a different level, a different mindset. He always works so hard, of course; he has the Jerry Rice-type of preparation mentality. He's in college, but he takes care of his body like he's in the NFL. It's like he's trying to be the best in the world. Being able to watch him motivate everyone else around him and having him share what he's learned from his [former Super Bowl champ and Pro Bowler] dad and the guys his dad played with, you see him put all that together, and it's just incredible.
LS: You guys have a huge game this week and you're going up against a team in Washington that's trying to take your place, trying to become the next team that will rule the North. What's it been like to be the team that's set the standard in this conference the last few years?
ST: We take huge pride in that. We preach on focusing on us and being us, and then we can be the best. The older guys, like the guys who came before me, have done an incredible job setting the standard for how good they want us to be, for the physicality, the mentality and the effort we play with here at Stanford. That's something we want to uphold. We want to make those guys proud. It's the tradition here to set the standard, but it's an opportunity every day to do that.
LS: Who do you think will be an X-factor this Friday in Seattle?
ST: Trent Irwin. He's a hugely underrated receiver on our team and in the nation. The way he works, the way he plays, is ridiculous. He's perfect within his routes. So crisp, so clean. I love watching him. I feel like he's going to have a breakout game.
LS: What's the weirdest or coolest class you've ever taken at Stanford?
ST: One of the coolest classes I've taken was Creative Writing, being able to take the prompt and just go with it. I wouldn't call it weird but something that was different: I took a class called Sleep and Dreams, where you learn about your sleep and dreams.
LS: A few years ago, I was doing a story on Tyler Gaffney, the Stanford running back who had gone back and forth between professional baseball and college football and excelled in both. I remember telling David Shaw I couldn't believe that more people weren't in awe of what Gaffney had done and Shaw told me, "This is Stanford, and everyone here is doing something special." Do you agree with that? Do you have an example of that?
ST: Oh, I totally agree with that. Everyone here is so big in their own way, they're going to do something so amazing to impact this earth and impact the people on this earth. Us playing football, honestly, is sometimes lesser than what most other people on campus are doing.
An example is that I go out with Christian all the time, he's one of my best friends on the team. People will never know who he is. Christian is the best player in college football, the star in the Bay Area, the face of Stanford football and people will be like, "Oh, do you play sports? That's cool." They still don't comprehend that's Christian McCaffrey. We can walk around campus and not be bothered. It's a luxury to be here with this many amazing people.
LS: So besides being a great football player, how are you going to impact the world with your Stanford degree?
ST: I don't have the perfect answer yet. I got exposed to the tech atmosphere out here, and that whole realm, so I'm interested in that, whether it's working with a startup or interning with a venture capital firm. At some point in my life, whether it's part of my degree or not, I want to work with kids. Whether it's in the inner city, coaching somewhere, working with them somehow and impacting kids in some way, a passion of mine is working with youth because they're the ones who are going to make up our nation soon. That's something I care a lot about.
LS: You lived in Australia for five years. When was that, and why did you live over there?
ST: My dad was an international sales manager for Proctor & Gamble, and they had him out there. It was an amazing experience to be there from 2 to 7 or 8.
LS: Did you play rugby while you were there?
ST: [Laughs] I did not play rugby, but I swam and was a pretty serious swimmer. I rocked a Speedo pretty good.
LS: So what you're saying is that we could have seen you in the 2016 Olympics if you had stuck with it instead of taking up football?
ST: Maybe. I joke with my teammates about it all the time.
LS: I've heard you love animals. When you go to the zoo, what animal do you absolutely have to see?
ST: Well, first I have to go see the gorillas because I think I can talk to them. I know, I'm weird. I like seeing any cute and cuddly animal. I envision hippos being cute and cuddly, even though they're one of the most dangerous animals on earth. I love elephants. Let's see…rhinos are cool, they look awesome. Lions are beautiful animals that are sort of heroic in the realm where they live. And bears! Bears are awesome.
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LS: You've listed basically all of the major animal groups.
ST: I know, I have to see them all. There's no other reason to go to the zoo.
LS: Beyoncé was in town a couple weeks ago, and I heard you were extremely upset when you found out Stanford's kickoff time against USC meant you'd have to miss the concert. How disappointed were you? Did you think about calling in sick to the game so you could go see the queen?
ST: [laughs] Jokingly, I thought about calling in sick. But I got to see her in May at Levi's Stadium, which was one of the best experiences of my life. But I was bummed I didn't get to see her again. Hopefully next time I can call the TV network and see if they can move the game time.
LS: This is a broad question, but I'd love to hear your thoughts: What do you think Beyoncé means to the black community?
ST: She means a lot. What she did with her "Formation" video, how she's incorporated her own beliefs about what's going on [in society] into her music and her performances, from moments of silence for those who have died. Expressing herself and being free, no matter what others may think of her, being bold in the spotlight she has…she's one of the best, most well-known performers and artists of all time. Her speaking out and being an example for others to do that, it's meant a lot to the black community.
LS: What's your favorite Beyoncé song to sing during karaoke?
ST: Oh, boy. I love "Halo," but for karaoke, I'm gonna have to go with "Irreplaceable."
LS: I'd like to see video of that.
ST: Maybe it'll happen!