|Height: 5-08 | Weight: 195 | College: Arizona|
Thomas is a classic case that big things come in small packages. Having played for a team in a rebuilding process, as a senior he led the team to its first bowl game appearance in nine seasons. The Wildcats would have probably been sitting home in January if not for Thomas' outstanding performance in a variety of roles, amassing 1,648 all-purpose yards while scoring touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning punts in 2008.
Regarded as the school's best all-purpose threat, Thomas closed out his career setting the school and Pac-10 Conference all-time record with 259 receptions. His 3,231 receiving yards placed eighth in league annals and third on the Arizona record charts, as his 23 touchdown grabs tied for third in Wildcats history. He amassed 4,891 yards, the fourth-best career total at Arizona.
Thomas excelled in football, track and basketball at DeSoto High School. He earned a spot on the 2004 All-District 7-5A team as a wide receiver on offense and return specialist. He added Prep Star All-Midlands, Super Prep All-Southwest and Houston Chronicle Texas Top 100 accolades. He was rated among the nation's top 30 receivers, receiving a four-star prospect grade from Max Emfinger's recruiting service.
As a senior, Thomas rushed 333 yards on a mere 26 carries and had 15 receptions for 205 yards in a run-oriented offense. That year, he helped the team compile a 9-2 record. After his final season, he competed for the West team in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at San Antonio, a game that featured the top 78 national players.
Thomas enrolled at Arizona in 2005 and made an immediate impact. He was named Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year, the first Wildcat to ever earn that honor. He also added Freshman All-American second-team honors. He played in every game, starting four contests, but was used as a decoy in the season finale vs. Arizona State after having surgery to repair broken bones in his forehand. He led the team with 52 receptions for 771 yards (14.8 avg) and five touchdowns. He added 40 yards and a score on five carries and generated 811 all-purpose yards.
Thomas' hand injury at the end of 2005 caused him to miss more than a month of the 2006 off-season training program. He started 10 games at split end, placing second on the team with 50 catches for 597 yards (11.9 avg) and two scores, adding six carries for 68 yards (11.3 avg). He also recorded four solo tackles on special teams.
The 2007 season saw Thomas garner national attention. The All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice led the team with a career-high 83 receptions, the third-best season total in school annals. He amassed 1,038 yards (12.5 avg), the fourth-best total in a campaign by a Wildcat. Eleven of those grabs resulted in touchdowns, tying the Arizona single-season mark.
Thomas finished third in the league with an average of 152.17 all-purpose yards per game. He took over kickoff return chores, totaling 615 yards on 26 attempts (23.7 avg) and rushed 10 times for 173 yards, including one score.
Thomas became just the 12th player in league history to earn All-Pac 10 Conference first-team honors at multiple positions in the same season (as a receiver and punt returner) in 2008. He started all 13 games, leading the league with an average of 5.69 receptions per game, hauling in 74 passes for 825 yards (11.1 avg) and four touchdowns.
He scored once on 24 carries for 114 yards and returned 14 kickoffs fo317 yards (22.6 avg). As a punt returner, he ranked second in the league and 15th nationally with a 13.52-yard average on 29 attempts with two scores. His average of 126.77 all-purpose yards per game ranked fifth in the Pac-10.
Positives: Short, but has a strong, surprisingly think frame. Good initial burst off the snap and can quickly eat up the cushion if unchallenged at the line of scrimmage. Can sink his hips and shows good immediate burst out of his breaks. Good toughness as a receiver and returner. Not afraid of contact and will go over the middle or attack the seam as a returner with reckless abandon. Good vision for the cutback and sets up his blocks well. Soft hands for the reception. Can pluck outside of his frame. Good body control to make extend and make the tough catch. Short, but times his leaps well. Returned two punts as a senior -- his first year as a returner. Solid week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Well suited to moving inside to the slot position.
Negatives: Will be limited to a slot position in the NFL, as he lacks the size and strength to play outside. More quick than fast. Good timed speed, but lacks the top end speed to consistently beat defenders over the top. Prone to lapses in concentration and drops more passes than he should. Production is inflated due to Arizona's spread offense and lack of surrounding playmakers throughout much of Thomas' career.
GENERAL REPORT: GRADE: 6.5
Body Structure: Thomas has a short, yet thick and athletic frame (classic slot receiver-type) with good muscle definition, decent arm length, tight waist and hips and minimal body fat. His compact build generates good power, especially with his thick thighs and calves.
Athletic Ability: Thomas is much shorter than what teams look for in a receiver, and even though he was a split end in college he will more likely be utilized as a slot receiver in the NFL. He has a strong, thick frame with good muscle definition, along with above average quickness and body control. He displays solid footwork and agility getting into his routes and his balance is acceptable, despite some ankle thickness (does not cut sharply). He has good stop-and-go action and excellent timed speed, but that does not always translate to the field due to an adequate second gear. He shows good acceleration, athleticism and body control handling returns. GRADE: 6.4
Football Sense: Thomas shows good football intelligence and no problems in handling the mental aspects of the game. He learns and retains the playbook and needs just minimal reps to retain. As a returner, he shows the instincts and awareness to adjust on the move. He understands his role on the field (to provide a spark) and has become a clutch playmaker during his college career. Still, he is prone to concentration lapses and whether it is his size or poor hand extension, he does drop a fair share of easy throws. GRADE: 6.5
Character: Thomas is a good character with no known off-field issues. He is a respected leader by example, dependable and coachable. Unlike most receivers, he does not come off with a standoffish attitude. GRADE: 6.4
Competitiveness: Thomas does not appear to be hesitant going over the middle, but is best served on slants and crosses, as despite his timed speed, it does not translate to the football field, where he sometimes has problems losing the defenders when going over the top. He shows good toughness and aggressiveness and is competitive on the field. He will play with pain, evident by demanding to be used as a decoy in the 2005 Arizona State clash, despite wearing a cast and undergoing surgery the previous week to have screws inserted in his fractured forehand. He is a clutch performer with the savvy to change the outcome of a game. GRADE: 6.7
Work Habits: Thomas is a good worker on the field and in the weight room who never quits and is always pushing himself. He leads by his work ethic and dedication, but sometimes gets down on himself, mostly because he sets very high standards. He takes pride in his ability as a playmaker and will do whatever the coaches ask. GRADE: 6.6
ATHLETIC REPORT: GRADE: 6.09
Release: Thomas has very good tilt and lean, burst and acceleration and the feet to stutter and go, but despite his timed speed he just seems to lack that extra gear to beat the defender going over the top. When he is utilized on slants, screens and crosses, he does a very good job of coming off the snap, sinking his pads and generating good burst out of his breaks. He has the functional strength to beat the bump and run and good body control and footwork to elude. He just needs to use his head and shoulder fakes on the release and make quick cuts to escape with more consistency. GRADE: 6.4
Acceleration: Thomas does a much better job accelerating and separating working underneath. He works and adjusts to uncover, but while he has good timed speed, he needs to improve his second gear in order to be a more effective vertical threat. He is a threat on underneath routes due to his success to find the seam. Even with his speed, that does not make him a deep threat, as he does have the explosion when trying to run down the deep throws. He just seems more consistent when using his short area maneuverability and burst to run by defenders. GRADE: 6.0
Quickness: Thomas's timed speed does not translate to the field when running deep patterns. He can get a decent push upfield with effectiveness, but is better served on short-area patterns. He shows good foot speed, but the lateral agility in his change of direction could use improvement (ankle stiffness). He does display solid body control, though. He is still learning to use his speed to explode into a route, but has enough acceleration and thrust to turn and separate from second-level defenders. GRADE: 6.8
Route Running: You have to love the way he uses his head and shoulder fakes, but just wish he would do it more often. He is just a functional route runner on deep routes, but on short-area plays he does a nice job of dropping his weight and accelerating after the catch. He will stab and stem to set up defensive backs and is effective gearing down, but must show a better change of pace. He will generally make sharp cuts, but at times he will take some soft angles (needs a little polish, as he runs lazy routes). GRADE: 5.7
Separation Ability: Thomas has good change-up speed and appears fluid on the move, but does not have that extra burst to separate from corners (better vs. second-level defenders). He shows decent body control to settle and break with some burst out of his short patterns. He has a good feel for how to separate vs. the zone, knowing how to use his balance, doing a nice job of sticking his foot down to plant and pop out to gain separation, but still is a little rough in getting behind the defender in the deep secondary, especially when he gets sloppy in his long routes. GRADE: 6.7
Ball Concentration: Thomas has more than enough toughness and ability to go up in a crowd without hesitation. He will not shy away from contact in the middle of the field. He can make the catch in a crowd, take a shot and hang on. He will have an occasional easy drop, but he knows how to uncover and is very aware of coverage. As a returner, he shows good patience, but is also very alert is quick to attack the seams. He is alert to pocket pressure and knows how to vary his speed and throttle down when hugging the sidelines. GRADE: 6.6
Ball Adjustment: Thomas has decent body adjustment skills to get to the off-target throws. He does a nice job of looking the ball in and tracking it in flight on short-to-intermediate throws, but does struggle to get to the deep throws over his outside shoulder. He has the balance to adjust to passes that are high, low and behind. GRADE: 6.0
Leaping Ability: Thomas lacks the size to beat too many defenders to throws at its high point. He is a good leaper in the training room (40.5-inch vertical) but even with good timing to go up and get the ball, his lack of height will see him lose quite a few jump ball battles. GRADE: 6.1
Hands: Thomas has big hands for a player his size, but will get into a rhythm where every attempt to get to the ball will lead to multiple drops. Some feel it is due to lapses of concentration, but you can see it is a case of very inconsistent hands. He will snatch and pluck outside his frame, but also lets the ball into his body too often. GRADE: 5.3
Run After the Catch: If Thomas takes the ball in stride going over the middle or on quick screens and slants, he is effective at getting upfield. Even with his speed, a lack of second gear causes him problems when trying to elude in the deep areas. He is much more effective working underneath, where he has some slipperiness. He won't make the quicker defenders miss after the catch, but he is usually looking for space. He is not strong to break tackles, though, and must rely more on his acceleration to escape. While you would like to see more strength from this kid, he is not easy to knock down (especially on returns), especially when he gets a full steam in his running stride. GRADE: 6.4
Blocking Ability: Thomas might show some ability to position and pester, but he does not have the size, bulk or brute strength to hold up at the line of scrimmage. He will give effort and shows decent hip snap on the crack block, though. GRADE: 5.0
Special Teams: Thomas has good playing speed and patience as a returner. He has the vision and feel to find the crease and is not hesitant banging up the wedge. He tracks and field the punts and kicks well and has above average straight-line speed, vision and run instincts. GRADE: 7.0
Compares To: ANTWAAN RANDLE EL, Washington -- Thomas is a multi-talented athlete with a strong-looking, yet shorter than ideal frame. Like Randle El, his chance for earning playing time on offense will come as a slot receiver. For all of his impressive timed speed, he just lacks that extra gear to be much of a vertical threat and the spread offense he played in was able to hide that fact. He has very good leaping ability, but will usually give up quite a few inches to defenders, making it a 50-50 chance he will high-point the throw. His added value will come on the return unit. Taking over punt return chores last year is sure to put some extra bucks in his pocket on draft day.
OVERALL GRADE: 6.16 (as a receiver only)/6.24 (including return skills).
--Report by Dave-Te' Thomas
Thomas started 39 of 48 games at Arizona, catching 259 passes for 3,231 yards (12.47 avg) and 23 touchdowns His 259 receptions topped the previous Pac-10 Conference all-time record of 258 by Derek Hagan of Arizona State (3,939 yards; 2002-05) His 3,231 yards receiving placed eighth in Pac-10 history and third in school annals behind Bobby Wade (3,351; 1999-2002) and Dennis Northcutt (3,252; 1996-99) His 23 touchdown catches tied Wade for third in school history behind 'T' Bell (30, 1972-75) and Northcutt (24, 1996-99) Gained 4,891 all-purpose yards, ranking behind Northcutt (5,392; 1996-99), Art Lupino (4,983; 1953-56) and Bell, (4,943; 1972-75) His 11 touchdown catches in 2007 equaled the Arizona single-season record that he shares with Bell (1974) Caught 83 passes as a junior, topped only by Wade (93 in 2002) and Northcutt (88 in 1999) His 1,038 receiving yards in 2007 rank fourth on the school single-season record list behind Northcutt (1,422 in 1999), Wade (1,389 in 2002) and Keith Hartwig (1,134 in 1976) As a senior, he became just the 12th player in league history to earn All-Pac 10 Conference first-team honors at multiple positions (receiver and punt returner) in the same season Caught at least one pass in 47 of 48 games he played in (the only game he did not have a reception was vs. Arizona State in 2005, as he played in the game as a decoy, wearing a cast after suffering broken bones in his hand the previous week vs. Washington) His 12 receptions vs. both California and Southern California in 2007 rank second on the school single-game record list.
All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice as both a receiver and punt returner, adding All-American honorable mention as an all-purpose back by The NFL Draft Report Started all thirteen games at split end, leading the team with 74 receptions, the fifth-highest season total in school history Gained 825 yards receiving (11.1 avg) with four touchdown grabs, adding 114 yards and a score on 24 carries (4.8 avg) Ranked fourth in the league with an average of 63.46 receiving yards per game and led the Pac-10 with an average of 5.69 catches each contest Gained 317 yards on 14 kickoff returns (22.6 avg) and ranked 15th nationally and second in the conference with 29 punt returns for 392 yards (13.5 avg) and a pair of touchdowns Amassed 1,648 all-purpose yards, ranking third in the Pac-10 and 23rd in the nation with an average of 152.17 yards per game.
|2008 Game Analysis|
Idaho Thomas had a quiet season opener, gaining 53 yards on four punt returns and 28 yards on five catches QB Willie Tuitama flipped a second-&-goal 3-yard scoring pass to Thomas midway through the first quarter On just his third punt return for his career, Thomas coughed up the ball, but Arizona cornerback Marquis Hundley recovered the ball and advanced it 87 yards for a touchdown He snatched an 11-yard pass that was downed at the Idaho 3, where Tuitama then threw a 3-yard score to Terrell Turner with 0:09 left in the first half.
Toledo Thomas caught nine for 138 yards and one score, adding 21 yards on three punt returns Closed out the game's scoring with a 12-yard touchdown catch with 3:27 left in the contest Earlier in the second quarter, he set up a 27-yard scoring run by Nic Grigsby by hauling in a 27-yard pass on the previous play In the third quarter, his 27, 12 and 17-yard receptions led to QB Willie Tuitama's 7-yard touchdown pass to Delashaun Dean, ending a 68-yard, 8-play series.
New Mexico QB Willie Tuitama's fourth-down attempt to Thomas was incomplete with 40 seconds left, setting off a celebration on New Mexico's sideline, as the Lobos downed Arizona, 36-28 The split end hauled in a season-high eleven passes for 127 yards and returned two punts for 40 yards Tuitama hit Thomas with a 43-yard scoring strike in the first quarter, as the split end set up his own score by converting a third-&-1 pass into a 6-yard gain on the previous play In the second quarter, Thomas converted a third-&-3 throw into a 9-ysard catch that was followed by Tuitama's 15-yard touchdown toss to Delashaun Dean.
UCLA Thomas rushed twice for 17 yards, made four catches for 115 yards, had an 18-yard kick-off return and totaled 107 yards on six punt returns, finishing with 257 all-purpose yards He snared a 52-yard pass that was downed at the UCLA 5 and two plays later, Nic Grigsby scored on a 3-yard run In the fourth quarter, he set the table for Xavier Smith's 8-yard scoring scamper with a 43-yard reception into the UCLA red zone.
Washington Thomas broke the game open with an electrifying 48-yard punt return for a touch-own midway through the second period, as he fielded the ball near midfield, retreated about 10 yards and then cut up the home sideline, sprinting past Washington tacklers. Near the goal line, Thomas leaped over a prone Quinton Richardson and into the end zone as the Arizona Stadium crowd of 55,624 erupted Also caught three passes for 26 yards.
Stanford Thomas was held to four catches for 31 yards while gaining 32 yards on three carries and 12 yards on a punt return.
California Down 10 at intermission, Arizona cut the deficit to 24-21 on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Willie Tuitama to Thomas on the opening drive of the second half The split end amassed 104 yards on six receptions, 40 yards on two punt returns and 14 yards on three carries His second quarter 40-yard punt return led to an 11-yard touchdown run by tailback Keola Antolin In the third quarter, he set up Antolin's 1-yard scoring burst with a third-&-1 catch for 6 yards.
Southern California Thomas returned a kickoff 52 yards, pulled down six passes for 45 yards, rushed once for 4 yards and returned three punts for 13 yards 10, 2, 10 and 14-yard grabs set up an Arizona 30-yard field goal late in the first quarter The tense, tight game ended in confusion, as Thomas fumbled, possibly purposely, and the Wildcats returned the punt into USC territory as the clock expired, as the Trojans held on for a 17-10 win over the Wildcats.
Washington State Thomas only caught three passes for 41 yards, as he lost one yard on two punt returns, but scored on a 5-yard reverse late in the first quarter to conclude a 12-play, 72-yard possession He turned the ball over after fumbling a punt return in the third quarter that the Huskies recovered to start a touchdown drive.
Oregon The senior receiver generated 74 yards on four kickoff returns and 42 yards on a punt return, but grabbed just four passes for 16 yards His mid first quarter 42-yard punt return set up Keola Antolin's 2-yard touchdown run.
Oregon State Thomas tallied 50 yards on six receptions, 15 yards on five carries and 55 yards on three kickoff returns He converted a third-&-5 pass for 6 yards and on the next play, QB Willie Tuitama hit Rob Gronkowski with a 16-yard scoring strike in the third frame.
Arizona State Thomas broke the game open with a 52-yard punt return for a score, and Arizona trampled Arizona State 31-10, clinching the Wildcats' first winning season since 1998. The split end produced 75 yards on nine receptions Then came the backbreaker: the punt return by Thomas that electrified the Arizona Stadium crowd of 58,704. He fielded the bouncing ball over his shoulder, dodged a tackler and raced past a wall of blockers along the left sideline for his second punt return for a touchdown this season Earlier in the third quarter, he had 7 and 11-yard catches to put the ball at the ASU 12, where tailback Nic Grigsby ended the series with a 12-yard touchdown run Thomas was voted winner of the Bob Moran Most Valuable Player Award with his nine-catch game plus the big punt return.
Brigham Young (Las Vegas Bowl) Thomas became the Pac-10 Conference all-time leader in career receptions on the final play of the game, giving him 259 catches, passing previous record holder Derek Hagen of ASU The team captain caught four passes for 29 yards, ran for 12 yards on three carries, returned two kickoffs for 66 yards and two punts for 15 yards.
All-Pac 10 Conference first-team pick, earning All-American honorable mention as an all-purpose back by The NFL Draft Report Thomas started all twelve games at split end, catching a career-high 83 passes, the third-highest season total in school history His 1,038 receiving yards placed fourth on the Arizona annual record chart (12.5 avg), as his eleven touchdown catches tied 'T' Bell (1974) for the school single-season record Led the Pac-10 and ranked 17th nationally with an average of 6.92 receptions per game Ranked second in the league with 86.5 yards per game receiving Finished second in the Pac 10 with 152.17 all-purpose yards per game Collected 173 yards with a score on ten carries (17.3 avg) Took over kickoff return duties with 615 yards on 26 attempts (23.7 avg) Also recorded one solo tackle vs. New Mexico.
|2007 Game Analysis|
Northern Arizona Thomas piled up 171 all-purpose yards on four carries for 80 yards, a 35-yard kickoff return and five receptions for 56 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown that ended a 10-play, 69-yard first quarter possession.
New Mexico The split end scored twice on seven receptions, as he tallied 137 yards In the fourth quarter, he tried to rally the team in a 29-27 loss with scoring grabs of 12 and 13 yards.
California Thomas caught a career-high twelve passes for 105 yards and returned three kickoffs for 60 yards He capped a 69-yard, 13-play possession with a 4-yard touchdown catch in the fourth frame.
Washington State The split end followed with two more scores on four catches for 53 yards He had a 20-yard score in the third quarter and ended a 10-play, 62-yard fourth quarter drive with a 20-yard snatch.
Southern California Thomas torched the Trojans secondary for twelve catches that totaled 83 yards.
Washington Thomas exploded for 338 all-purpose yards, earning Pac-10 Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors for 173 yards on three kickoff returns He made most of his damage as a receiver, as three of his ten grabs for a career-high 165 yards were good for touchdowns With 0:15 left in the first quarter, he ran under a 66-yard scoring bomb from QB Willie Tuitama In the fourth quarter, he staked the Wildcats to a 48-41 decision, catching a 2-yard lob from Tuitama and then hauled down a 27-yard game-winning touchdown to cap an 11-play, 80-yard series with 2:02 left in the game.
UCLA The junior receiver gained 186 all-purpose yards on four receptions for 92 yards and five kickoff returns for 94 yards.
Oregon Thomas continued to be the team's spark plug, rallying the Wildcats to a 34-24 triumph with his six catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns, adding 30 yards on a kickoff return He pulled in a 34-yard scoring toss from Willie Tuitama in the first quarter, followed by a 46-yard touchdown snatch.
Arizona State The all-purpose back collected 296 all-purpose yards, returning five kick-offs for 151 yards, ten receptions for 109 yards and 37 yards on a reverse.
All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention The sophomore started ten of twelve games, finishing second on the team with 50 receptions for 597 yards (11.9 avg) and a pair of touchdowns Recorded six carries for 68 yards (11.3 avg) and returned one punt for a 1-yard loss while gaining 31 yards on a kickoff return Recorded a solo tackle in each of the Louisiana State, Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona State.
Freshman All-American second-team and Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year by The Sporting News Started four of the eleven games he played in, insisting that the team use him as a decoy in the season finale vs. Arizona Stte, despite undergoing surgery the week before the game to have screws inserted and a cast placed on his fracture forehand Still managed to lead the team with 52 receptions for 771 yards (14.8 avg) and five touch-downs Rushed five times for 40 yards, recording a solo tackle vs. both Washington and Utah while adding an assisted hit vs. Oregon Gained 811 all-purpose yards.
2005: Suffered fractured bones in his forehand vs. Washington (11/12) and underwent surgery to have screws inserted. Despite wearing a cast, he was back in the starting lineup the following game vs. Arizona State.
2006: Suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener vs. Brigham Young (9/02) and the injury lingered for more than a month.
Combine: 4.30 in the 40-yard dash 1.44 10-yard dash 2.50 20-yard dash 4.28 20-yard shuttle 6.65 three-cone drill 40.5-inch vertical jump 10'6" broad jump Bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times 31-inch arm length 9 1/4-inch hands.
Attended DeSoto (Texas) High School, excelling in football, track and basketball All-District 7-5A pick as a wide receiver and return specialist in 2004 Prep Star All-Midlands, Super Prep All-Southwest and Houston Chronicle Texas Top 100 choice Was rated among the nation's top 30 receivers, receiving a four-star prospect grade from Max Emfinger's recruiting service As a senior, Thomas rushed 333 yards on a mere 26 carries and had 15 receptions for 205 yards in a run-oriented offense That year, he helped the team compile a 9-2 record After his final season, he competed for the West team in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at San Antonio, a game that featured the top 78 national players.
Communications major Valet parking attendant at his church Son of Faye and Michael Thomas Born 6/04/87 in Bossier, Louisiana Resides in DeSoto, Texas.