After a great week at the East/West Shrine game in Florida, NFL scouts left talking about a small school wide receiver. In just a few days, Thomas Mayo was showing NFL scouts, why he deserved a chance to be on the football field at the next level. Thomas Mayo was one of the most explosive wide receivers in the history of Division II amassing 4,000 plus receiving yards. I have done interviews with Thomas in the past, and can’t wait to see how he has been in Oakland after surviving his first OTA’s as a Raider.
Well, Thomas you have survived your first OTA’s and mini-camp, and while we wait for the preseason, I figured, I would let the Raider Nation as well as the Mocking the Draft fans learn a little more about you, so here we go.
Take me to draft day, did you receive any calls?
Where were you when you answered the call from the Oakland Raiders?
I was at home with the family and watching television, waiting for the phone to ring. When I answered the phone from Oakland, it was a great feeling. I was just excited to get out to Oakland, and couldn’t wait to put pads on and line up with some of the players.
What has been the biggest change so far from Cal (PA) to the Raiders?
I have to say the biggest difference is the playbook. Everything is more precise, in the NFL, you have be at the right place at the right time. You cannot run a 9 and out, it has to be 10. You have to be perfect on the alignment, and at first the terminology is very difficult. We learn like 20 plays a day, not including the run plays. As far as physicality, I don’t really think there is a major difference in that, they have big and small guys the same as D 2. The 2 and 3 hour meetings are a lot different as well, because so much information is being said in that time.
I have heard that you have been making some pretty amazing plays in camp, can you believe you are finally living your dream?
There are days where I just sit there, and say wow. I begin to think of the crazy trip that I had to take from Concord to Cal (PA) and now sitting in Oakland, it truly is a blessing. I went the first couple weeks without a drop, because I know I have to make every play count. I cannot wait for training camp, because anybody can come in and ball in shorts and t shirt but can you do it with pads on? I am ready for the pads, another crazy thing is I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, and we will play the first preseason game is against them, so I cannot wait for it. It is a Monday night game as well, I am going to have something to play for, I can’t wait!
Who was the first person you signed an autograph for in a Oakland uniform, and what did you sign?
It was a little kid who was waiting at the practice facility after practice. He was waiting for me to sign something, and I signed a T-Shirt and a helmet for the kid. It was pretty cool, I stopped and signed for everybody, I love giving back to them kids. I have received tons of fan mail already at the facility, and I am trying to make sure I get everybody’s stuff back to them as quickly as possible.
Do you feel you are getting a good grasp of the NFL Playbook and terminology?
The first day it was very hard, because you want to play fast but you have to memorize all the plays. I began studying the plays in groups, and it helped. It began to come to me a lot quicker. You can be in your hotel room studying but when you are out there it is a lot different.
What is it like to be in a locker room with Carson Palmer, and Darren McFadden?
It is kind of overwhelming at first because you are catching balls from Carson Palmer who you grew up watching play on Television. Simulating blocks for McFadden and lining up across from guys like Heyward – Bey and Denarius Moore, it is great. Raiders fans should be pumped because Carson Palmer puts balls in places you cannot even imagine. He can squeeze the ball in some tight windows.
Has there been any players that have kind of guided you so far in the OTA’s?
Darrius Heyward – Bey and a couple quarterbacks like Leinart, Pryor and Palmer have all been a great help. The rookies are not the only new ones learning the playbook, everyone is kind of learning as we go because there are a lot of new plays.
Do you feel you have something to prove since you were an UDFA?
Every day I feel like I have to do more than anyone. I am a small school guy, and going through the politics of being a small schooler, so I am staying late, and asking them what else I need to do. I have been waiting all my life for this opportunity and I want to show them that I am ready.
Where have you been lining up on the field, and are you playing special teams as well?
I am at the Z receiver and I am on the four and five receiver packages as well so far in camp. I am on kickoff and punt block as well. I am trying to jump in and take advantage on every play, even Special Teams.
Who is the toughest defensive back you have had to go up against so far in camp?
I would have to say Ronald Bartell who came over from the Rams, he has been pretty good, he has good corner but when we get pads on it will be different, because they will be able to bump and get up close. I can’t wait for that.
What player do you see as the vocal leader on the Oakland Raiders, who is the guy that is getting people ready so far in camp?
Carson Palmer, that is it, he is a very vocal leader. I think everyone in the huddle will say that as well, he is a smart guy and is a good person.
I remember telling you that one day we would be doing this interview, saying you had the talent to be in the pros, what would you tell other small school kids coming out next year?
I would tell the small schoolers to take advantage of every opportunity, work on the little things. That is what will open the door and give you your opportunity. Don’t get frustrated, stay focused, remember these are your dreams and stay committed. Keep that #NoDaysOff motto every day.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you develop the way you did, throughout college?
First off, I would like to thank God. I would also like to thank my immediate family and friends who have believed in me and stuck with me in this entire process. I have to thank all the fans from Concord, to Cal (PA) and even the Raiders Nation. Coach Keller from Concord, Coach Woodman who was a Wide Receiver coach at Concord, Coach Wilson at Cal (PA), and my trainer at home Harrison Bernstein who has helped me prepare for this moment. I have to give a shout out to Rishaw Johnson of Seattle as well; he keeps me motivated as well, and was a great teammate.
Right now, Thomas is battling others as a Wide Out for the Raiders, but let’s say the Raiders do in fact keep six wide receivers. If they were to keep Denarius Moore, and Jacoby Ford who are basically a lock as the number one receiver and slot receiver in Oakland. Besides them there are some other good players fighting for a spot, they are Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Juron Criner, Duke Calhoun, Derek Carrier, Tray Session, Eddie McGee, Rod Streater and Brandon Carswell. I know it will not be an easy task for anyone to make the roster, but do you think Thomas can make the roster? Answer the question below and put your top 6 wide receivers as you see it in Oakland in the comments section.
I would like to thank Thomas Mayo for another great interview, and wish him the best of luck during the Mini Camps, and the preseason. If you would like to follow Thomas on Twitter his handle is @ThomasMayo1 .