By Josh Spaht
On Sunday, January 5th, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas withdrew from the University of Oregon and declared for the NFL draft. De’Anthony just finished his junior year at the University of Oregon. Thomas will depart from the Ducks with more than 5,000 career yards, placing him third in school history, behind his former teammates LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, respectively. Thomas was previously projected to be a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, but some are now saying he may be taken even later than that.
Some people may be wondering why Thomas would leave for the draft after a season where he missed out on a lot of playing time. Early in the year, he suffered an ankle injury in a rainy game against Cal Berkeley. If Thomas were to play healthy the entire season, perhaps he would be looked at as a potential 1st or 2nd round draft pick. He is, after all, one of the top football recruits ever to attend the U of O.
Aside from being injured, a question that could also be raised is whether he was used properly during his final years at Oregon. “He should have been used more as a slot receiver,” said North Eugene junior, Jake Owens. At 176 pounds, clearly De’Anthony isn’t a traditional run-you-over type of player, but instead bases his game off speed, quickness, and agility. This arsenal would make him perfect for slot receiver, along with the fact that he could potentially have the best hands on the team. Strangely enough, however, in each year he played at Oregon, his number of targeted passes went down, and his rushing attempts went up.
Thomas’s playing time in general may have never been as much as many expected it to reach. In the Alamo Bowl, which turned out to be his last game in a Duck uniform, he was only in the game for 12 total plays. To be fair, it’s possible that his ankle injury had lingered through all of the 2013 season, and that it kept him from receiving as much playing time as he could have had.
No matter his playing time, nor his position on the team, De’Anthony Thomas has certainly been one of the most electrifying players to ever put on a Duck uniform. Every time he touched the ball, he had the potential to do something amazing, as he averaged a touchdown about every nine touches. He provided three solid years of entertainment to the city of Eugene and served as an essential player for one of the greatest Duck football teams ever put together. He undoubtedly has a strong fan base going into the NFL, and don’t be surprised if he ends up being taken earlier in the draft than projected.