As the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 capped the NFL season, the league saw two Pace alumni make a difference for their pro teams. This year, Andrew Thomas ’17 and Sam Sloman ’16 completed their rookie seasons with the New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans, respectively.
In 2015, the two were key factors in the Pace varsity football team’s GHSA Class AA state championship. The fourth-seeded Knights rolled past Fitzgerald High 42-21 in the Georgia Dome with the future NFL prospects’ help. “Both were First-Team All-State, so they were big role players for [the team],” said Pace Offensive Coordinator Kevin Johnson. “They were stars.”
“[The state championship] is still my favorite football moment to this day,” said Sloman. The championship is the only one in Pace football history, and came only seven years after establishing the program.
After graduating, Thomas ascended to play right tackle in Athens for the Georgia Bulldogs. “The day he stepped into Pace Academy, he made mention that he was going to the University of Georgia, no matter what,” said Coach Johnson. As a true freshman, he started every game at right tackle and was named to the Freshman All-American team.
He switched to left tackle for his sophomore season, and after missing two games due to an ankle injury, he became a First-team All American and a part of the All-SEC team. Following his junior year, Thomas declared for the NFL draft and was projected to leave the board in the first round. On April 23, 2020, the Giants took the Georgia phenom with the fourth overall pick. Thomas started throughout the season, and he even caught a two point conversion in Week 5 against the Cowboys. “He loves the NFL,” said Coach Johnson. “He learned a whole lot, started slow but ended strong.”
At Pace, Sam Sloman played soccer exclusively for his freshman and sophomore year before joining the football team his junior fall. “I grew up a big Falcons fan and knew I would always regret not playing,” he said. During his two years on the team, he was named to the All-State team twice, made 86% of field goals, and kicked every extra point through the uprights.
Sloman was then recruited by and kicked for Miami University of Ohio for four years before declaring for the NFL draft. As a freshman, Sloman started all 13 games for the Redhawks, serving as a kickoff specialist. Then, from sophomore to senior year, Sloman kicked field goals, finishing fourth in all-time in scoring with 259 points and second in field goals with 49 for the school.
The Los Angeles Rams then selected him with the 248th overall pick in the 2020 draft. However, on Oct. 27, Sloman was waived from the team and picked up by the Tennessee Titans the next month.
In Tennessee, Sloman spent some time on the practice squad before being added to the active roster in early January. In the last week of the regular season, he scored five extra points and two field goals, including the game-winner to help the Titans beat the Houston Texans 41-38. “That was a crazy experience,” said Sloman. “Not one that I thought I would experience going into the game or even going into halftime.”
Top photo: No. 2 Sam Sloman ’16 celebrates after kicking the game-winning field goal for the Titans on Jan. 3. @ssloman118 on Instagram