The Joe Thomas Award is given annually to the state's top senior offensive lineman as part of the WSN Senior Football Awards. The award is named after former Brookfield Central and University of Wisconsin athlete Joe Thomas, who has gone on to great success in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. After an All-American career at UW, Thomas has been selected to the NFL Pro Bowl each of his three years in the league.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 25 semi-finalists, and five finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state finals.
Joe Thomas Award Finalists:
Jaden Gault, Monona Grove - Gault has battled a knee injury this year, but has been dominant as usual. A First Team All-State choice by the WFCA last season, he is a three-time First Team All-Conference selection. "Whenever we need yards we run behind the big guy," said head coach Michael Stassi. "Jaden has great explosion along with great feet to get the job done." Gault has committed to Wisconsin.
Jacob Maxwell, Greendale - Maxwell blew up over the last 12 months, eventually earning a scholarship to Northern Illinois. Playing with a bit of a nasty streak, Maxwell has good feet and uses his size to overwhelm opponents. "Jake was our best weight room leader," said head coach Rob Stoltz. The Panthers are unbeaten heading into Level 2 and feature one of the most prolific offenses in the state.
Logan Nelson, Kimberly - Nelson was a Unanimous First Team All-Conference pick in the VFA-North last season, and not only earned that distinction this year, he added league Offensive Lineman of the Year honors. "For our program, it all starts with our offensive line and our line this year is anchored by Logan," said head coach Steve Jones. "He is a very athletic offensive lineman who is extremely physical at the point of attack."
George Panos, Arrowhead - The son of former Wisconsin standout and NFL veteran Joe Panos, George was a First Team All-Conference and WFCA All-State selection after a stellar junior season that saw him and his Warhawks teammates dominate on the way to a state title. Arrowhead is one of the favorites this year once again, as Panos has moved around on the line, displaying his versatility. Recruited by numerous top colleges, Panos will play at Wisconsin like his father.
Luke Rasmussen, Brookfield Central - Brookfield Central has seen some outstanding offensive linemen over the years, including the award's namesake Joe Thomas. "Luke is extremely athletic for his size," said head coach Jamie Meulemans. "He has great feet and mobility." Rasmussen's agility was partly honed on the basketball court, where he is also a standout. A three-year starter on the Lancers offensive line, Rasmussen has more than a dozen Division 1 scholarship offers.