Ray Thomas-Ishman

Ray Thomas-Ishman going through drills on Pro Day.

—Submitted Photo/Jon Fuller|/Assistant Athletic Director/Communications University at Buffalo

Ray Thomas-Ishman could be a name to remember during this years NFL draft in Cleveland, Ohio. Thomas-Ishman, a Simon Gratz product, who had a great college football career at the University of Massachusetts and for the University at Buffalo. Thomas-Ishman has garnered some attention as a possible steal in the draft coming up.

The former Public League star was able to gain some additional exposure while playing in Senior Bowl in Mobile, Al. Ishman-Thomas had a chance to showcase his talents in front of several NFL scouts and coaches. He feels playing against the best college football players and competing in the All-Star game should really help him.

“The Senior Bowl was good,” Thomas-Ishman said. “It gave you an experience to talk to the NFL teams while you were there. Then, they had classes on how to handle yourself as a businessman. Now, we’re our won business and how we conduct ourselves. It was good as far as getting one-on-one. The teams would pull you and talk to you and ask questions.”

Thomas-Ishman wasn’t the only local player at the Senior Bowl trying to make an impression with the NFL teams. Shaka Toney, former Imhotep Charter and Penn State defensive end was there, too.

“I played against Shaka Toney in high school,” Thomas-Ishman said. “He went to Imhotep. Imhotep and Gratz played each other our senior year in high school.”

Thomas-Ishman and Toney could join other Public League standouts like D.J. Moore (Imhotep Charter, Carolina Panthers), Jihad Ward (Bok Tech, Jacksonville Jaguars) and Shareef Miller (George Washington, Arizona Cardinals) and Yasir Durant (Imhotep Charter, Kansas City Chiefs) in the NFL.

“The Public League is building,” Thomas-Ishman said. “It’s good. A lot of people are starting to come out of the Public League. We’re starting to get noticed. I think colleges didn’t really look for football as far as going to college. But now I think it’s changing. So now we’re starting to get notice and people are starting to get scholarships to be able to perform at the college level. Now, we’re performing and able to go to the next level. I think it’s going to keep on getting bigger. I mean way bigger.”

Thomas-Ishman, a 6-foot-3, 325-pound offensive lineman, played three seasons at UMass prior to becoming a graduate transfer and playing for the University at Buffalo. He played guard and tackle for the Minutemen while displaying similar versatility at Buffalo.

“I can play anything on the o-line [offensive line],” Thomas-Ishman said. “I could play guard or tackle. I did both. I had been taking a lot of center snaps with nobody over top of me, but I know for sure I could play guard or tackle. It really doesn’t matter to me. I like both of them. I like guard more because you’re a little bit more physical. Everything is right there up front. I feel like I can play tackle too at the next level.”

Thomas-Ishman has working out at Level 40 Gym [Level 40 Training & Performance Center] in King of Prussia. During his workouts, he had a chance to meet Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Brandon Graham who helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl in 2018.

“The owner of the gym is Greg [Garrett], but everybody calls him “G”,” Thomas-Ishman said. “I’ve been working out there. I met Brandon Graham. He’s been working out there. I’ve been getting to know him the last couple of weeks.

“He was giving me pointers and stuff like how to conduct yourself when you get to the next level. Get around people who will watch your film a lot. He was telling little techniques on as far as tackles and what they’re looking for as far as looking at a [offensive] tackle. He was helping me with stuff like that as far as linemen, which really helps me. I’ll be going against people like him.”

If Thomas-Ishman isn’t selected in the draft, he will be ready to land a spot with the NFL team as an undrafted free agent.

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