November 09, 2011
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 9, 2011

Thomas DeMarco wanted to be more than just a walk-on player, he wanted to make an impact.

"I was unhappy in my role at San Diego State," remembered DeMarco. "I came back home and tried to get my associates as fast as possible and put myself into a situation to have opportunities."

Then the right opportunity came. Sitting in class at the College of the Desert, DeMarco got a call from his coach that someone from Old Dominion was on campus and looking for a punter.

"Coach Scott was looking at an offensive lineman we had out there," said DeMarco. "I already made a film that was quarterback first, kicking, and then punting. After I sent it in, I got a call saying that they were interested in talking to me about playing quarterback. Then Coach Wilder made a trip out with Coach Scott to California to meet me and invite me to campus."

"Coming out of high school, if you ever told me I'd be in Virginia, I'd probably never believe you," recalled DeMarco. "I was one of those kids who was `California or nothing'. Things fell into place and I got an opportunity to come here."

"I had a few other opportunities, but this was the best fit."

When he runs out of the tunnel on Saturday, the originally recruited punter can look in the ODU records books and see his name plastered all over the place - game, season, and career records for most carries, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and nearly every passing record bares DeMarco's name as he has been the cornerstone of building a program to national recognition.

The time at Old Dominion has flown.

"I feel like just yesterday the Student Rec Center was just opening and a lot of new buildings on campus were just opening," he said looking back. "I can remember talking about the first game and now here we are in the CAA. It's been three years for me and it definitely goes by fast."

And when he runs out of the tunnel this time, it will be an emotional one, as DeMarco, who is wrapping up his MBA in May, and his fellow seven senior classmen play in their final regular season home.

While all the 12th Monarchs will be on their feet to celebrate all that DeMarco has done for Old Dominion over the last three seasons, two in particular will be cheering the loudest.

"My two biggest fans will be at the game, my mom and my grandma. They try and get to three games a year. They come out for the first game every year then pick one in the middle and one towards the end. It's going to be an emotional day."

Running out of that tunnel underneath the Ainslie Game Day Building will be some of the memories he will remember the most.

"It's something we all grew up wanting to do being athletes. I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to do that at one of the most celebrated teams in our conference and in the nation."

"It's a good feeling to do the Monarch Walk every time going to the stadium," DeMarco also said looking back, "and people in the community talk about us all the time."

And if they can help it, DeMarco and the Monarchs have more memories of running out of the tunnel this season and DeMarco's name will continued to be talked about on why Monarch Football has been as successful as it has been.

Not too bad for a walk-on who wanted more.