1986 Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Inaugural Winner Thomas Everett, Baylor University
Thomas Everett was a standout athlete at Daingerfield High School in Daingerfield, Texas. He excelled on the gridiron playing seven positions including quarterback, over the course of his high school career. His football number hangs today in the school’s field house as a testament to his legacy on the football field.
Following high school Everett attended Baylor University to play under College Football Hall of Fame coach Grant Teaff. By the mid-way point of his freshman season, Everett was starting at cornerback. He opened his sophomore year at corner, but was moved to safety in the second game of the season. Everett became a dominate force at safety accounting for 99 tackles his sophomore year. During his junior season he became one of the best defensive backs in the nation earning All-American honors and first-team All-Conference honors. He was voted the conference’s Athlete of the Year, and ranks among Baylor’s top ten in career interceptions (12), tackles (325). In addition to being a fine defensive back, Everett was a major contributor on special teams, leading his team in punt return yards three times. He was a leader during one of the program's most successful eras, as Baylor won 30 games and appeared in three bowl games during his career. He was named to Baylor's All-Decade of the 1980s Team and to the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame. Thomas Everett finished his college career as the first-ever winner of the Jim Thorpe Award in 1986 as the nation’s top defensive back, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Everett was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 4th round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played in Pittsburgh for 5 seasons. He was a top notch safety when he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1992. He was one of the most important trades made during the Jimmy Johnson era, and helped to solidify the team's defensive backfield. He was a member of back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams in Dallas, and had two interceptions in Super Bowl XXVII, a 52-17 rout of the Buffalo Bills. After a pro bowl season in 1993 Everett signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played there for 2 seasons before retiring.
He currently serves as the Performance Director of Thomas Everett Athletics, a sports enhancement program formed to provide competent sports performance training to athletes ages 8 years and up. He is also the Head Football Coach at Episcopal School of Dallas in Dallas, Texas.
PAYCOM JIM THORPE AWARD