12/28/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Adonis Thomas will be seeking a fifth straight game with more than 100 yards rushing when the Rockets face off with Air Force in the Military Bowl. Thomas is the workhorse in a deep and skilled corps of running backs. Thomas leads the MAC with his 6.5 yards per carry average and needs just 37 yards to reach 1,000 for the second time in his career. Thomas, who missed the better part of a month after breaking a bone in his arm on the first play of the Syracuse game, has roared back on the scene with four straight 100-yard rushing games. - The Sports Xchange
Thomas wasn't rated among the top-100 running backs out of high school, choosing Toledo over a few other MAC programs. After redshirting in 2007, he saw limited playing time as a reserve in 2008 as a redshirt freshman, recording 40 yards on nine carries (4.4-yard average) and one score. Thomas shared the back-up duties at running back in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 151 yards on 27 rushes (5.6).
He became a starter in 2010 as a junior and started 12 games, recording a team-best 1,098 yards on 175 carries (6.3) and eight touchdowns with 31 catches for 372 yards (12.0) and 2 touchdowns, earning Second Team All-MAC honors. Thomas again led the team in rushing in 2011 as a senior (nine starts), finishing with 1,071 yards on 171 attempts (6.3) and 12 touchdowns with 31 catches for 350 yards (11.3) and one score, earning second-team All-MAC honors.
Thomas is a quicker-than-fast scatback with the change of direction ability and sharp, cutback skills to make defenders miss. He is undersized and lacks great build on his frame, but he's a small target (tough to hit cleanly) and does a nice job hiding behind blockers with top vision.
Thomas is a shifty, coordinated athlete with explosive burst to create on his own and contribute as a receiver, but his questionable size and strength render him a luxury late-round pick with the athleticism to turn some heads once he gets into a NFL training camp.
Strengths: A balanced runner with good combination of wiggle and lower body strength. Possesses above average initial burst with natural explosion and start/stop ability to make guys miss -- can turn on the jets in a flash. Creative between the tackles with good vision and patience, doing a nice job following his blocks. Has very quick feet with smooth footwork to easily change directions and make sharp cuts to elude defenders in space. Has very good lateral agility and doesn't go down easily because he's a tough runner to square-up in tight areas with his smallish frame. An effective receiver in the screen game with reliable focus and ball skills out of the backfield -- good experience motioning out to receiver pre-snap as well. Productive at the college level, leading the team in rushing the past two seasons with extensive experience on special teams coverage -- finished his career with 11 100+ yd performances. He is a very determined runner, never giving up on the play.
Weaknesses: Has a lean frame and lacks ideal bulk or muscle for the position. Doesn't have great strength, lacking a power element to his game to break many tackles after contact. Tends to dance too much and will try for the home run play and end up losing yards. Doesn't have great top-end speed and lacks the breakaway gear to outrun defenders -- can be caught from behind. Has marginal ability in pass protection and lacks the overall size to be a workhorse-type back. Has strong durability concerns, missing three games in 2011 with an arm issue and battled through several other injuries. Doesn't have any experience as a return man on kickoffs or punts.
NFL Comparison: Derrick Locke, free agent
-- Dane Brugler