Pirates Profile: Thomas Owens

By: Mike Reid
Pirates Writer
February 19, 2021

He goes by T.O., and Pirates fans know him as the 2019 NAL Rookie of the Year. I had the pleasure to speak with Pirates wide receiver, Thomas Owens. He is a very humble young man with an infectious smile. Despite having a very successful football career so far, he is always moving forward and focusing on what’s in front of him. Only time will tell what is next for T. O.

Owens first started playing sports in elementary school, where he first began playing basketball and tee-ball. He soon started playing football when he was old enough and fell in love with the game very quickly. During his first year of playing Pop Warner Football, his coaches gave him the nickname “T.O.”, and it of course stuck with him the rest of the way. While he enjoyed watching the other “T.O.” (Terrell Owens) play when he was a kid, he never tried to mold his game after him or any other wide receiver. Owens simply just tried to be a better Thomas Owens, and that drive made him the football player he is today.

T.O. has always had a strong support system behind him. His family has been some of his biggest supporters. They have been behind him no matter what and Owens appreciates his loved ones. Before every game dating back to college, Owens writes down a quote and puts it in his sock. This is a pregame ritual that his grandmother told him to start.

Growing up in one of the hotbeds of high school football in Florida, Palm Beach County, Owens went to Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach. He was a true athlete for his team, lining up at quarterback and safety, and was also a return specialist. Oh yeah, he played wide receiver, too. In what was a very competitive area, Owens would end up playing many of his friends from his youth on rival high school teams. Despite the tough competition, Owens made a name for himself on the field and earned a scholarship at Florida International University (FIU).

Owens also wore number 81 at FIU.

“Coming out of high school I always wanted to leave Florida,” Owens told me. “However, they (FIU) stuck by me through the whole recruiting process and we ran with it.”

In 2014, Owens arrived for his freshman year at FIU. It was a quiet year for him as he only appeared in 7 games.

“I was so used to being the man, and once I got to college it bothered me not playing. After my freshman season I worked my butt off and a couple guys ended up leaving, so I got the starting position and it was history after that.”

T.O. would then go on to start all 12 games in his sophomore and junior seasons, earning an All-Conference USA Honorable Mention in 2016. Owens then took his game to the next level his senior season in 2017. Posting career highs in receptions (59) and yards (887), while adding 6 touchdowns in just 9 games, all before an unfortunate knee injury cut his season short. Owens credited his senior season success to putting in the extra work with his coaches and the game slowing down for him. A fun nugget from his college days, Owens was roommates with Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith at FIU and is great friends with him still to this day.

After his playing days at FIU, Owens went undrafted but did land a camp invite with the Seattle Seahawks. He reflected on that experience.

“Seattle was a very good experience. I took on the coaching, anything and everything I could to use in the future on another team. I really enjoyed that experience.”

Owens also had a stint playing in ‘Your Call Football’ in 2019, another experience that made him a better player in the process.

Then in 2019, Owens joined the Massachusetts Pirates. He of course was a very quick study when in the arena league as he became the 2019 NAL Rookie of the Year. T.O. told me he was surprised he received the award and took the award in stride.

“When it comes to my accomplishments, I try not to dwell on them because sometimes you can get unfocused from them. I thank God for them, I appreciate everything that God has put in my life already, all the blessings I have already, but I’m ready for more.”

Once COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 Massachusetts Pirates season, Owens started up a personal training business with a close childhood friend of his in Florida. He has been training hard and excited to get back up to Massachusetts for the 2021 season. Owens is hoping for a healthy team and is looking forward to facing off against brand new competition in the IFL. While he usually just lets his play do the talking, being a more vocal leader in the locker room is another goal this year for Owens.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard