LAKE OSWEGO, OR (KPTV) - In this Senior Spotlight, FOX 12 shines the light on a kid who took the long road to Corvallis with a senior season detour in Austin, Texas.
"If you ball, you ball, it's all about competition."
Lakeridge High School senior Tyeson Thomas knows everything's bigger in Texas and everything is more open during a pandemic there too.
"I was in Texas about 3 months," Thomas said. "It was kind of, bang, bang."
The 6-foot-3 safety took quite the journey to earn preferred walk-on status at Oregon State University.
"Jonathan Smith is a walk-on, Coach [Jake] Cookus is a walk-on. They really established a level of equality throughout the team and the program to where it's all fair game," Thomas said. "The best players play. It's all about competition which I find really attractive at OSU."
Saying I do to OSU after temporarily relocating to the Lone Star state with his dad Jimmie and cousin Jalen Ellis, a junior from Century High School in Hillsboro.
"The set up wasn't perfect. Me and my cousin were sleeping on air mattresses for the three months we were down there. Had to sleep on the ground a few times because they broke but we made it work with what we had, so I really enjoyed that and having the quality time with my dad and cousin, it was amazing," he said. "We were joking the whole time, 'well, this is going to be how college is, so get used to it.'"
Thomas used to live in the mid-valley. Raised in Salem, the one-time Sprague Olympian had visions of being a proud member of Beaver Nation more than a decade ago.
"It's crazy to think that me in some of these little pictures I see with my Pop Warner gear and all of my orange gear on, my Beaver gear and playing at Reser Stadium thinking, 'geez, I could play here one day.' It's all come full circle," Thomas said.
That perfect circle veered off path during COVID-19 times to play his senior season outside of Austin, Texas, at Del Valle High School.
"My dad actually knew the head coach, they competed against each other and have been boys ever since college," said Thomas.
While Oregon kids are still waiting to kickoff, those Texas-style Friday Night Lights of the fall are already done and dusted. Thomas' team had just one game postponed due to a positive test.
"We just rolled with it and won that game and it was really a standout effort," he said.
Thomas stood out too, earning second team all-league.
"We were thinking, if we are going to do this, we may as well go all in. Texas football being as big as it is, I had to go show them what's up," he said.
After procing his worth and earning a look from his in-state, hometown school, Thomas will be the biggest cheerleader if his fellow Lakeridge Pacers are allowed to play any kind of season in the coming weeks.
"I am just going to be their number one fan sitting on the sideline rooting for them, be their water boy," he said. "I am hopeful that they - we continue to have a season, and that it's great and fulfilling for many of the guys on the team."