LAWTON — Ivan Thomas' head dipped below the water and disappeared for a few seconds. Then it emerged again.
Lawton High's running-back-turned-defensive-tackle was treading in the waters of Lake Lawtonka holding a stick in one hand.
Just an hour before, he finished up a summer workout.
His strength (he can bench 405 pounds) and his speed (he was a running back until suffering a torn ACL as a sophomore) is what puts him at No. 25 on The Oklahoman's 2013 Super 30 list.
His noodling skills, though, are what make Thomas who he is away from the football field: a country boy.
His uncle was on Mud Cats, the National Geographic show about teams in Oklahoma that search for catfish with their bare hands all to prove they're the best noodlers in Oklahoma.
Thomas started noodling when he was age 9 with his family. He became more of a country boy when he started hog hunting with his brother.
“All you have is your hearing and your head lamp,” said Thomas, whose outfit on this particular day consisted of a faded pair of blue jeans, well worn cowboy boots and a cowboy hat with a band that was hand-beaded by his uncle.
Thomas is also a team roper. He hunts on his tribe's land outside of town — he's Comanche, Kiowa and Peruvian Aztec — and can dance the two-step.
“I taught myself,” he said with a slight smile.
His hand is bit by a catfish when he reaches into its mouth to dig it out from beneath a rock. It's his legs the hogs chase when he hasn't quite flipped it over and roped its legs.
“That's the only time in my life I've ever been scared,” Thomas said.
Despite the fun he has in individual sports, though, “I like football because it's a team sport.”
He's seems fine with the 15 pounds he added after the ACL injury that allowed him to become more of a defensive back.
“Now I can use my strength more,” he said, “but I'm also still pretty fast.”
He's hoping his senior season he will perform better and receive more offers.
He might be big 6-foot and 280 pounds, but Wolverines coach Randy Breeze said his biggest problem with Thomas is him “eating ice cream on the couch with his grandmother.”
“That's really not a bad problem to have,” Breeze said. “He's not one I have to worry about getting in trouble. He's a fine young man, never out on the streets. He's a true country boy.”
The Oklahoman's Super 30
No. 25: Ivan Thomas
Position: Defensive tackle
Committed to: Texas Tech