When he’s not fishing, paddle boarding at Horsetooth Reservoir or perhaps getting ice cream at Kilwins or Walrus, senior Jaylen Thomas is working on his Business Administration degree at Colorado State University.
A favorite class of Thomas’ was an entrepreneurship class taught by Kipp Krukowski.
“He’s just a very good teacher,” Thomas said. “He’s very down to earth, the way he explained things. It seemed like I was talking to someone I’ve known for many years.
“He really just opened up my mind a little bit about how complex, but how simple, the business world can be. Definitely someone I want to stay in touch with in the next couple years of my life.”
After graduation, he plans on getting a graduate degree. “It’s brick by brick, and every day I just have to get 1% better,” Thomas said.
The same can be said for Thomas’ extracurricular activity: Playing running back for the Rams’ football team. Thomas is getting to know his third coaching staff and offensive system after making the team as a walk-on in 2019.
After playing as a freshman, he was red-shirted his second season and then averaged 4.1 yards per carry (YPC) as a reserve last year.
“It’s definitely not the most ideal situation, but to get back on a winning track to where we are, where we’re headed, I think it’s great to have Coach Norvell and his new staff in,” Thomas said. “I’m enjoying them so far. There’s a lot of new relationships being built, so it takes a lot of adjustment and drive — a lot of purpose behind what you do.”
The son of two CSU graduates Branden and Dawn, both class of 2002, Jaylen almost didn’t have a choice for college. The Colorado Springs native did first commit to another school, but ended up in Fort Collins.
“Both my parents are alumni, so I’ve kind of been surrounded by the community in a way. I lived up here for a couple years and then, coming out of high school, I always wanted to play football,” Thomas said. “Loved the environment. Loved the people. Loved the campus, so …”
Following dad’s example
Apart from football, Thomas wants to be a businessman like his father, a senior account manager at UPS in Colorado Springs.
“I listened to him growing up and am kind of following in his footsteps a little bit, maybe work for a larger company,” said Thomas, whose concentration is in organization innovation management.
“I was in supply chain, but I kind of wanted a more broad sense of the business school,” he added. “I wanted a little more accounting, a little bit of tie-in into my education.”
Schoolwork is important — Thomas said his mother is an educator — so to her, if not to CSU fans, his GPA is more important than his YPC.
“The good thing is (the concentration is) so broad that you always bring a lot of entrepreneurship into upcoming businesses,” Thomas said. “You can go from there.”
Well-balanced in the community
When he’s not on the football field or studying, Thomas said he’s usually doing something near a body of water.
“I really enjoy fishing. I enjoy hiking, just some of our local things we can do here like going to Horsetooth (Reservoir), paddle boarding,” he said, adding that ice cream isn’t his only favorite thing to spend money on. “I enjoy shopping, looking for (Nike Air Max) shoes online, just burning time like that.”
In 2017, Thomas was recognized — along with CSU standout Trey McBride and fellow Ram running back A’Jon Vivens — as part of the National Football Foundation Colorado Chapter Scholar-Athlete team.
At Vista Ridge High School, Thomas was on the leadership council, assisted in youth camps and cleaned up neighborhoods. He volunteered at several church events and worked with Care and Share Food Bank, collecting canned food donations and boxing them for community members in need.
“Well, I definitely want to be successful,” Thomas said of his goals. “I want to be well-balanced in my community. Give back. Hopefully, come back up here and be a booster and just find some success.”
“Both my parents are alumni, so I’ve kind of been surrounded by the community in a way. I lived up here for a couple years and then, coming out of high school, I always wanted to play football,” Thomas said. “Loved the environment. Loved the people. Loved the campus, so …“
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