A 6'4," 238 pound linebacker, Thomas is 10th in career tackles at Auburn with 325. Thomas tallied a career-best 122 tackles and nine tackles for a loss in 2001 en route to Second-Team All-Conference honors. Thomas was named the 2003 Capital One Bowl Defensive MVP and in 2001 earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors once. This season, Thomas is second on the team with 49 tackles, including six for loss.
"This is a tremendous honor for Dontarrious," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He has been outstanding not only on the football field, but in the classroom and in the community. His efforts during his time at Auburn are reflected in this award."
Thomas has been heavily involved in community service activities such as the March of Dimes, Toys for Tots and the Read Across America programs. A guest speaker at junior high school banquets, he is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
Former Auburn players to receive the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award include Ed Dyas in 1960, John Cochran in 1963, and Gregg Carr in 1985.
"Since 1959, these highly sought after awards have recognized only a chosen few who have excelled above all in the areas of scholarship, citizenship and athletic performance," said National Football Foundation Chairman Jon F. Hanson. "We are pleased to honor these outstanding young men for all of their achievements with an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship."
To be eligible for a National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame post-graduate fellowship, the nominee must be a senior or graduate student in his final year of eligibility, have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, have shown superior academic application and performance, have outstanding football ability as a first team player, and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.
The other Division I-A recipients include Robert Droege (OG, Missouri), Nathaniel Jones (CB, Rutgers), Craig Krenzel (QB, Ohio State), Eli Manning (QB, Ole Miss), Rodney Reed (OT, LSU), Jonathan Vilma (LB, Miami, Fla.), and Renaldo Works (RB, Oklahoma). Seven other recipients combined were named from Division I-AA, Division II, Division III, and NAIA.
"The 15 exceptional scholar-athletes we chose this year represent the best and brightest this nation has to offer on all playing levels," stated Robert E. Mulcahy III, chairman of the Awards Committee and director of athletics at Rutgers University. "Each year it seems the talent pool continues to expand, and our job to select the most deserving individuals gets more difficult. This year's incredible class is a testament to the hard work of our committee."
The scholar-athletes will be recognized at The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's 46th Annual Awards Dinner on December 9, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Also being honored at the dinner will be the 2003 College Football Hall of Fame class, which will share the dais with the 15 scholar-athletes.
Each scholar-athlete receives an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship, and that evening, one will receive the Draddy Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in the nation, increasing the scholarship to $25,000.