Peyton Manning's MasterCard commercials notwithstanding, grocery store employees typically make it through work days without customers' fawning.
Cody Thomas, though, isn't your average cashier, which is why he recently found himself standing behind his register, posed in his throwing motion and gripping a watermelon like a football for a star-struck customer's photograph.
“It was funny,” the Colleyville (Texas) Heritage quarterback remembered with a laugh.
While the two-sport star — who will sign Wednesday to play football at Oklahoma — balances football workouts and the start of his senior baseball season, Thomas will also continue bagging groceries, running the cash register and stocking shelves at the local Tom Thumb store.
Thomas stunned OU co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel during a recent in-home visit with the revelation that he's worked part-time jobs throughout high school. Soon, the four-star football prospect will have to decide if he's ready to make baseball his full-time job.
Thomas (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) is expected to be a high pick in next summer's Major League Baseball Draft, making it possible that Oklahoma's recruiting class of 2013 could ultimately be left without a quarterback.
“That'll be further down the road,” Thomas said. “Right now, I'm worried about getting to OU, playing football and baseball and enjoying that.”
But he's also balancing a job, which is unusual for such a highly regarded quarterback prospect — especially one who stands out in a second sport, too.
Heupel told Thomas that he's never had an incoming quarterback who worked during his senior year of high school.
“I just feel like I'm not different than any other kid just because I play sports,” Thomas said. “That doesn't make me not able to do something like that.”
Yes, Thomas took a pretty atypical path to athletic prominence; no expensive private lessons and minimal one-on-one instruction that generally comes standard with a high-school athlete of Thomas' stature.
“I wouldn't have it any other way,” Thomas said. “You can go out and pay all the money you want for all those private instructions, but at the end of the day, it comes down to ability, determination and hard work. That's what my dad instilled in me.”
Thomas chose Oklahoma last May over offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and USC. One major factor in his decision, he said, was the Sooner coaches' willingness to let him play college baseball, too.
Even after committing, he still received letters and phone calls from other schools; Thomas' dad, Pete, said once his son makes a decision, it's made.
Pete Thomas told coaches early in the recruiting process that Cody wasn't the type of kid to line up baseball caps at an announcement ceremony.
That laid-back mentality is why Cody Thomas said he's ready to get the signing over with.
“I'm a simple guy,” he said. “I don't really care about the flashiness or everything. When I know what's right, I'll do it, make my decision and move on.”
Thomas is still months away from the MLB Draft, after which he'll have another huge life decision to make.
Until then, Thomas plans to stay content as an amateur athlete and professional grocer.