2 former Pace Academy players, band members selected in NFL draft

2 former Pace Academy players, band members selected in NFL draft
Thomas played in the band at Pace Academy. (Laura Black Inman)

What a weekend for Pace Academy. Two former football standouts and school band members heard their names called in the 2020 NFL draft.

Former University of Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas was selected in the first round by the New York Giants while the Los Angeles Rams selected former Miami University kicker Samuel Sloan in the seventh round.

LIST: From No. 1 to No. 255, here’s every player selected in this year’s NFL Draft

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Thomas’s road to the University of Georgia began at Pace Academy in Atlanta where he led the Knights to the 2015 GHSA Class AA state championship.

“Andrew followed the blueprint when he arrived at Pace as a freshman,” said Kevin Johnson, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. “He has continued to stay focused on his goal: to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.”

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“Andrew Thomas is one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached,” said Pace Academy head coach Chris Slade, himself a former NFL linebacker. “Academically, he is incredibly talented, and his football IQ is off the charts. But more than that, he is respectful and humble. When he speaks, others listen. I know that he will be an impact player for the Giants right away.”

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Sloman concluded his senior season as a Second Team All-American and a member of the All-MAC Second Team. He went 26-30 on field goal attempts and 34 for 34 on extra points. Sloman’s 112 points rank fourth in Miami University history for scoring in a season.

Originally a soccer goalie, Sloman began playing football his junior year of high school at the urging of Slade. “I just asked him to give it a shot,” Slade recalls. “The rest is history.”

“Sam didn’t realize how good he could be,” Slade said. “He was such a difference maker for our team. He allowed us to take chances on offense, and he could kick us out of trouble. I knew, as soon as we got off the bus for a game, that we had nine points on the board. And from a character standpoint, you can’t find a better young man. I’m so excited for him.”

In addition to playing football and soccer for the Pace Academy Knights, Sloman served on the board of Kicking for Autism, and as a Sunday school teacher and tutor at his synagogue. He was Pace Academy’s 2015 Homecoming King and a member of the school band.

“Sam was a dedicated and hardworking member of the band,” said Pace Academy band director Danny Doyle. “He truly cared about the other students around him and was eager to lend a helping hand. Whether through his wonderfully positive attitude or strong work ethic, Sam always led by example.”

Thomas was in the band, too. The massive offensive lineman played percussion in the Pace band.

“Andrew is a great musician,” said Doyle. “He has always been passionate about music, and it showed during his time at Pace, where he was an integral part of our program. Andrew was always prepared for any challenge, and I’m excited to see him begin this new chapter.”