Former Elizabeth football standouts sign NFL contracts; Walker with Colts and Thomas with Cowboys

Phillip Walker and Jahad Thomas concluded standout high school football careers by helping lead the Elizabeth High School Minutemen to the first North 2, Group 5 state championship in 2012.

Both then went to Temple and excelled at the Division 1 level the past four seasons.

Last weekend they each signed professional contracts to see if they can make it in the National Football League.

Although Walker (5-11, 205) and Thomas (5-8, 185) were not drafted, they did attract the attention of NFL teams that were seeking to sign players as undrafted free agents.

Walker, who passed for over 10,000 yards and 83 touchdowns in his college career, signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Walker is Temple’s all-time winningest quarterback. He helped lead Elizabeth to an 11-0 record his senior season of 2012, one year after helping guide Elizabeth to the North 2, Group 4 state championship game in 2011.

Thomas, who scored 19 total touchdowns, rushed for 953 yards and caught 33 passes for 418 yards last year, signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

The nfl.com’s draft profile of Thomas said: “With his ability to operate from the slot and as a jet-sweep runner, he could be an interesting toy for a creative play-caller.”

Each graduated from Temple.

“Not only were Phillip and Jahad athletic standouts, they also did the academic work necessary to graduate from Temple,” said Elizabeth Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer.

“These two young men are examples for all of Elizabeth’s young people that pursuing athletic dreams and academic excellence go hand-in-hand,” said Elizabeth Board of Education President Stanley Neron.

“Congratulations to Phillip and Jahan for reaching their goal of not only graduating from one of the top colleges in the country, but also signing NFL contracts,” said Elizabeth’s Director of Athletics Judy Finch-Johnson. “We are so proud of them.”

Walker threw for 3,295 yards and 22 touchdowns for Temple last year. The Owls went 10-4 in 2016, sharing the American Athletic Conference’s East Division title with South Florida at 7-1.

Temple then defeated Navy 34-10 for the American Championship. Temple concluded last year with a 34-26 loss to Wake Forest in the Military Bowl.

The respected sports web site Bleacher Report named Walker the No. 1 “sleeper” going into last week’s NFL draft.

Walker told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “I am excited. I am taking it day by day and waiting to see what happens, but I will be glad when I know what my next step will be.”

In each of his last two years, Walker has taken steady increases in completion percentage from 53.3 percent to 56.7 and eventually 58.2.

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