Earl Thomas’ Texas two-step is football and music

Safety Earl Thomas does a lot for the Texas football team. He has eight interceptions, which is second in the nation, and 71 tackles, which is second on the team.

He even puts points on the scoreboard, having returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns.

Yes, Thomas does just about everything except play in the band.


And even that could be arranged.

Thomas, a sophomore, has little down time between practice with the Longhorns and practice with Bad Bones, a jazz group based in Austin, Texas. He plays piano in the group, but can also play the organ, saxophone and drums.

At West Orange (Texas) Stark High, Thomas read both offensive schemes and music sheets on Friday nights, playing football before shedding his pads and joining the band for the halftime show.

“It was kind of embarrassing,” Thomas said. “We were a small school, so there were maybe 30-35 people in the band. I’d take off my shoulder pads and helmet and march in my cleats.”

Thomas’ musical abilities are well known around the Texas team.

“Last year, there was a piano in our dining hall. He’d sit down and start playing. It was pretty amazing,” defensive end Sam Acho said.

Other times he has “volunteered” when the team has gone on bonding excursions.

“Any time we go somewhere, you can get pushed up there,” Thomas said, pointing out that defensive end Sergio Kindle was sent up to rap when the Longhorns went to a comedy club Sunday night. When called upon, Thomas said, “I sit down, get in the groove, and go from there.”

Thomas’ start in music began when he was 12. His church needed a piano player and his grandfather, the church’s pastor, nudged him into the spotlight.

“My uncle went to college and we didn’t have a piano player,” Thomas said. “My grandfather told me to go up there and try to make some music.”

It led to a backup career. Thomas knew someone who knew someone in Bad Bones, “so I got an audition.” It led to a permanent spot in the band, which plays clubs in the lively Austin music scene.

Thomas occasionally teams up with Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley, who plays guitar and has written and recorded his own music.

“We played at the [Fiesta] Bowl last season,” Thomas said. “I was on drums.”

Said Acho: “Earl is excellent. You should hear him.”

Or maybe the Texas marching band should.

“He was in the band in high school?” Acho said, smiling. “That, I didn’t know. Now I got something on him.”