ISU coaches grieve loss of Ed Thomas

June, 25, 2009
6/25/09
6:52
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The shooting death of legendary Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas was mourned at Iowa State.

Several former Cyclone players were members of teams coached by Thomas.

And ISU head coach Paul Rhoads, a native of Ankeny and the son of an Iowa high school coach, told the Des Moines Register that he grieved Thomas' death.

"This is a devastating loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Thomas family and countless people who are better individuals because of their relationship with Ed Thomas.

"Ed Thomas was one of the first people to call me when I came back to Iowa. I can't tell you how much his call meant to me. He came down to our clinic and called me afterwards to compliment us on how the clinic was run. As an Iowa coaching legend, he didn't have to makes those calls. Ed did it because he was the best of people.

"As a young man growing up I first learned of coach Thomas through my father's high school coaching career. Everyone knew that this man was far more than a football coach.

"His leadership set an example for us and his legacy will live on in the thousands of people he has touched in and out of the classroom and on and off the field."

Former Cyclones head coach Dan McCarney, now an assistant coach at Florida, told the Register he remembered his association with Thomas fondly.  

"When Ed said a kid could play, you knew that the kid was going to be a player. Even if Ed said he had someone that might be worth a look as a walk-on, you made a special trip up there to see him. Ed's one of the nicest people I've ever known. He had so much class, and so much character."

And former Cyclone linebacker Taylor Schrage, who played high school football for Thomas, was deeply affected by the loss of his former coach, the Register reported.

"I couldn't stop [crying after hearing the news]. About the time I'd recover, I got another text from someone telling me that Ed Thomas died. This is a very tough day.

"We went to the same church, too. Whenever I went back home, he was always asking me when am I coming back to help him coach. I always asked him how A-P football was going to be, but it was never about football with him -- he was always asking me how I'm doing, how's Omaha, and how's my job going? For someone to do this to him -- man, I don't get that one.

"I definitely wouldn't be where I'm at today professionally without Ed Thomas. He was all about treating people with respect. He demanded more from me than I thought I had in me, and you know what? That's one of the things that made him such a great man. He knew how to get things out of you that you didn't even know you had."

Schrage's older brother, Landon, a long-snapper for the Cyclones, also played for Thomas before leaving for college.  

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