Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas had only two rushing attempts in the Rose Bowl game. Both of them went for touchdowns. One for 91 yards, and the other for 64. Oregon defeated Wisconsin 45-38. Photo by Associated Press
De’Anthony Thomas’ last three rushes in the Los Angeles area have all gone for jaw dropping touchdowns.
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
In the 2010 Los Angeles City Section high school football championship game, Crenshaw had the game in hand against Carson when they decided to give Thomas one last memorable play. They called a halfback pass, and when Thomas could not find anybody open he dodged two Carson defenders on the right sideline, and then he darted all the way back to the left side of the field and outran the Carson defense for one final touchdown that capped off a great high school career that produced two City titles.
The fans at the Coliseum who witnessed that play were stunned by Thomas’ athletic ability, and could not wait to see him take his talents to USC. But just before Thomas could sign with USC, he took one final recruiting trip and then ended up signing with Oregon.
Thomas made his first trip back to play a game in Los Angeles, this time in the Rose Bowl game, and his very first rushing attempt of the game he burst up the middle of the field and raced 91 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. As soon as he hit the hole the entire Wisconsin defense went into chase mode, but they did not come close to getting a hand on Thomas, who was clearly the fastest player on the field.
In the third quarter Thomas’ number was called again, this time on a sweep. His teammates blocked it perfect, allowing Thomas to turn the corner, and from that point it was over. This time a 64-yard touchdown run, untouched again.
Thomas only had two carries in the game, for a total of 155 yards and two touchdowns. In only two carries he displayed the skills that Los Angeles high school football fans loved watching during his days at Crenshaw, and the skills that USC fans thought they would be seeing at home games at the Coliseum.
It’s hard to argue with Thomas’ decision to choose Oregon over USC, because USC’s pro style offense may not have suited Thomas’ skills as much as Oregon’s high octane spread rushing offense does, and Thomas felt that he would be able to make more of an impact early in his career at Oregon than at USC.
Thomas may have been right that Oregon suits his talents more than USC, but if he had stayed home, he probably would have made an impact this year. Seeing that wide receiver Robert Woods (Serra) was an impact player as a freshman, Marqise Lee (Serra) gained over 1,000 receiving yards this past season as a freshman, and linebacker Hayes Pullard (Crenshaw) started this season as a redshirt freshman, Thomas may not have had to wait at all to see the field.
If Thomas had stayed home there is no question that USC head coach Lane Kiffin would have found a way to get him the ball, probably more than twice on the ground in a game.
Next year Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will get the ball in Thomas’ hands a lot more often, especially with running back LeMichael James turning pro. James was the workhorse running back for Oregon. With him moving on to the NFL, it will give Thomas a lot more opportunities. Seeing that he scored 18 total touchdowns on limited touches this year, seeing him get more of a workload will scare any defensive coordinators.
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