This time of the year makes us heavily susceptible to the desire to crank hyperbole and emotion-based prognostication to 11, and fill the void of football with dreams of 12-4, future Hall of Fame players the league hasn't heard of yet and the franchise records that will be broken in the journey to a Super Bowl this season.
In that, we may be making too much out of Steelers fourth round pick Shamarko Thomas.
Yet, we still feel compelled to write about him, as Post Gazette writer Everett Cook did Monday. There's not a ton of new information in Cook's write-up compared to a similar piece we wrote in May, but it doesn't get old, either.
Stories of Thomas intentionally doing multiple workouts a day and pushing himself to the point of throwing up, then doing more. How his mom, his best friend, told him he was her "Chosen One," and he remembers that, along with the five siblings he was responsible for upon her death and the death of his stepdad.
Perhaps the most powerful statement, this from Cook's piece:
"My mom used to tell me, 'Work hard until your hands and feet fall off.' She's gone, but my hands and feet are still here, so I still have to work."
We barely know Thomas, but we are already convinced he's serious; this kid is going to keep working until his hands and feet literally become detached from his body.
What fourth round pick in Steelers history has generated this much buzz? Not even Alameda Ta'amu, who was met with high expectations before letting them down in catastrophic fashion last year, can even sniff the buzz Thomas is generating.
And even if the man his peers at Syracuse called "The Human Missile" starts in some capacity for 16 games and is named to the Pro Bowl, it feels like he may not have fulfilled the hope Steelers fans have for him.
And ya know what? I'm ok with that. Hope is a good thing. Expectations are positive. If anyone seems to have the internal desire to succeed beyond reasonable expectations, it's Thomas. Even in a draft class with three picks ahead of him carrying several reasons to be optimistic, Thomas is the one who's caught our collective eye.
Something tells me he's prepared for that and will meet, if not exceed, those lofty expectations.