Andrew Thomas says his roommates understand the deal: For multiple hours a day, he’s going to be posted up in the dining room area of their apartment, doing Zoom calls with teammates and coaches on the New York Giants.
In April, Thomas was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and the Giants are hoping their highly-rated rookie will anchor their offensive line for a decade or more. But Thomas, like many other recent draftees, hasn’t even signed a contract—a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the traditional NFL offseason schedule. For now he’s working out and studying the playbook in Athens, Georgia, where he played for the Georgia Bulldogs, though he’s begun checking out some spots in New Jersey that aren’t too far from MetLife Stadium.
Thomas’s schedule is largely dictated by the aforementioned Zoom calls: He plans his day around them, and gets his meals and workouts in accordingly. In his limited downtime, he says he actually doesn’t obsessively play video games; his stress-reliever is the piano.
In an interview with GQ, Thomas discussed how he altered his NFL Draft preparations and training, why he’s on a carb-heavy diet at the moment, and how his interest in music has helped him absorb the Giants’ playbook.
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GQ: Before the NFL Draft, when the pandemic really arrived in the United States, how did your day-to-day change?
Andrew Thomas: When the pandemic happened, Pro Day and all those events were cancelled. I had about 10 visits scheduled with different teams. That was the first big difference—instead of going to the facilities to have my workouts, I started having lots of Zoom calls. I’d wake up and have two or three Zoom calls with different coaches and members of their staff. And then I’d drive 50 minutes to this place called DASH Performance in Gwinnett County. It was shut down to the general public, but I had a relationship with the owner, so he let me come in there with my personal trainer to do some social distanced workouts. It was very different to not be able to come as you please; we had to come at a certain time, and avoid working out in a group. I adjusted and made it work.
What kind of workouts were you doing in the leadup to the NFL Draft?
After the NFL Combine, my workouts switched to more football-specific stuff. Before the Combine was more speed training. But after that, it reverted more to conditioning and strength training to be in better shape. Lots of position-specific drills that work your lower body and your hips. So, squats, power cleans, any explosive movements that you do when you’re making a block. And then there are some run-block drills, different techniques with different weights, working your hands, stuff like that.
What does your diet look like lately?
I’m not a huge breakfast person. Usually I’ll just eat something quick on the way out of the apartment. I don’t like to work out with a lot of food in my stomach. After I got drafted and we started having Zoom meetings that are pretty long, I had to adjust what times I work out. I’ve been planning my meals more than I used to so I can make sure I’m not running on fumes.
For lunch, I like some type of Mexican food, like a burrito, nachos, something like that. Lots of carbs. Usually there’s brown rice, chicken, or ground turkey. Dinner is where I really sit down and eat. That’s steak and potatoes, maybe more chicken, maybe spaghetti and meat; that’s my biggest meal of the day.
Are you cooking any of that up yourself?
I cannot cook. I can do breakfast, but my girlfriend helps with cooking, and other times I go get stuff from different restaurants. If I had to cook something up, it’d be some type of chicken alfredo.
Have you always been eating lots of carbs and protein?
I used to be on more of a cut diet. I wasn’t really eating as many carbs because I was trying to lose weight. Now I’m trying to maintain, so I’m eating more carbs. I want to get a little stronger too, build some more body muscle, which is why I’m eating more protein.
What’s the most important tally for you and your dietary goals? Is it calorie count? Grams of protein?
My body fluctuates—sometimes I’ll eat food and gain weight, other times I’ll eat a lot and my body weight won’t change. I don’t really focus too much on how many calories I’m taking in. The biggest thing is hydration. I sweat a lot, so making sure I’m hydrated is definitely instrumental for training, especially in avoiding soft-tissue injuries. That’s the biggest thing I’m focused on.
How many sports drinks a day are you consuming then?
This is a new thing for me—I used to drink that stuff all throughout the day. But the nutritionist with the Giants explained to us that it’s really not that healthy to be drinking those all day, given the amount of sugar in them. A big lesson for me has been sticking to water throughout the day, and then drinking Gatorade for my training sessions.
What’s your cheat meal?
Definitely fried chicken wings from a place called American Deli. I don’t know if they have those up there in the North like that, but down South, it’s big, especially in the Atlanta area.
How have you been passing the time while mostly doing meetings from home?
The video game thing isn’t going too well for me. My roommates play a ton, but I don’t play that much. When quarantine started, I thought I was going to have a crazy amount of free time, but there really isn’t that much. Especially before the NFL Draft, there were meetings all day, I was working out and getting position work in, and so I wasn’t actually laying around the house very much. When I do get a minute, I like to play my piano in between meetings.
The Undefeated talked to you about how learning sheet music can come in handy when you’re absorbing a football playbook. Is that something you’ve noticed with the Giants playbook?
The way my brain works, music and football correspond in certain aspects. The offensive line position is about technique, learning behaviors, and a lot of that stuff doesn’t come naturally. That’s how a lot of music is too. When I was in the band in middle school, we used to have this event where we’d have music prepared to perform, and then another part was music we’d never seen before. To me, that kind of translates to the field. You have your plays and a game plan going in, but the defense is going to react and do things you haven’t seen, and you have to react.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Originally Appeared on GQ