It seems as if every time De’Anthony Thomas touches the ball, he winds up in the endzone. Through the first three games, Thomas has touched the ball on offense 24 times, scoring seven touchdowns. Every 3.5 times Thomas touches the ball, he winds up scoring a touchdown. It’s no wonder that after every electrifying touchdown, the Heisman hype grows stronger and stronger.
De’Anthony Thomas is currently third in ESPN’s 2012 Heisman Watch, behind West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and USC quarterback Matt Barkley. While I think it is unlikely that Thomas will actually win the Heisman due to his hybrid type position rather than a traditional position, it’s seeming more and more likely with each game that Thomas will book himself a trip to New York City and earn his spot as a finalist.
What’s the secret to Thomas’ numbers that he has been putting up so far in 2012? It is his lethal speed. Famed rapper Snoop Dogg is the man behind Thomas’ nickname, the Black Mamba, saying he gave Thomas the nickname because he’s never seen anybody move that fast on grass other than a black snake.
All Thomas really has to do is to beat the front line of defenders. Once he gets past those, he turns to his breakaway speed to finish the job. Thomas, who was a top sprinter in high school, uses his 10.5 100 meter track skills to burst away to the endzone.
“I just try to get my offense started,” said Thomas. “Every time I try to make a play I just do it for my teammates.
Contrary to popular belief however, Thomas is in fact human. In Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech, Thomas fumbled the ball twice with a muffed punt return, as well as a fumble as he was caught from behind just as he approached the endzone.
“It’s a teachable moment,” said Thomas. “For myself, just got to finish to the finish line like it’s a track meet.”
Luckily for Thomas, right tackle Jake Fisher was in the right place at the right time, falling on the loose ball in the endzone for the touchdown.
“That’s an example of maybe on a teachable moment on the same play of a running back not finishing but our right tackle finishing,” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
By the time Thomas came out of the game after the first half, he had carried the ball three times for 62 yards and a touchdown, caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, and racked up four punt returns for 87 yards, nearly breaking away for a touchdown just about every time. In total, Thomas had 222 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.
Now, the tune-up games are over. Next weekend marks the beginning of Pac-12 play for Oregon as the No. 22 Arizona Wildcats come to town. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm with the game being aired on ESPN. Arizona recently made their way into the top 25 after a 59-38 upset victory over Oklahoma State, who was ranked No. 18 at the time. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers Thomas can put up when he plays a full game.