Home » CFF Features » 2012 Players to Watch: “The Black Mamba” aka DeAnthony Thomas

Posted by on August 8th, 2012 in CFF Features, Dan Pierson | No Comments

Let’s start the latest installment of this series by going back to national Signing Day of 2011.  DeAnthony Thomas is a tiny (5’9”, 170lbs) but horrifyingly fast (4.3 40-yd dash, 10.57 100-meter dash) athlete from Crenshaw HS in Los Angeles, and is being recruited hard by USC’s 2nd year head coach Lane Kiffin.  The Trojans are coming off a disappointing 8-5 season and in the midst of serving their punishment for lack of “institutional control”, but Kiffin pegs Thomas as his key recruit in returning USC to national prominence.  Early in the recruiting process, Kiffin had Thomas’ oral commitment and everything seemed great.  However, as his senior year at Crenshaw goes along Thomas begins to wonder if getting out of Los Angeles and all the “hangers-on” would be good for him; he also is not overly excited about playing defense which is what USC and many other schools have in mind for him.  So, according to the Los Angeles Times, about a week before signing day Thomas asks his high school coach to set up a visit to Oregon to see what the Ducks had to offer.  Long story short, he liked what he saw (who wouldn’t like what Phil Knight and Nike have built in Eugene?) and on signing day Thomas announces that he has signed a LOI with the Ducks.  The blogs, message boards and Twitter go wild – and Thomas heads to the Great Northwest.

About a year and half later, Thomas has already demonstrated exactly why there was such fuss over his recruitment, but more importantly he’s shown the skills that make him the most electrifying college player in the nation.   Redshirting was never a discussion with a player like Thomas, and in Oregon’s first game of the season he recorded 6 catches to go with a rushing TD vs. LSU.  From then on he almost couldn’t be stopped – 55 rushes for 595 yds (10.8 yds\carry!!), 46 receptions for 605 yds, 39 kick returns for 1,035 yds.  Thomas totaled 18 TD’s as well (the most of any freshman in the nation, and an Oregon all-time record for freshmen) an average of a TD once for every 8 times he touched the rock.  And the scary thing for opposing defenses is that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly has already vowed they’ll find many more ways to get the ball to their top playmaker… with Thomas’ elusiveness and Oregon’s un-paralleled creativity on offense, you get the feeling he could be in the mix for the Heisman this year as a true sophomore.

Some of you have made it through the previous paragraphs and wondered where the “Black Mamba” nickname came from… when Thomas was growing up in Crenshaw he played his youth football in the SYFL (Snoop Youth Football League) and was coached by the legend himself, Mr. Snoop D-o-double-g.  He was so quick and explosive on the field that Snoop described him as deadly, like a Black Mamba.  When the Doggfather gives you a nickname that sweet, you tend to want to keep it.  And when that nickname is given to you after the fastest snake in the world and one that is among the most venomous land snakes , again you tend to want to keep it.  Look out for the Black Mamba at a Pac-12 stadium near you in 2012.


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