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The Sports Daily > Duck Stops Here
Getting to know the 2011 Oregon Duck newcomers: De’Anthony Thomas

De’Anthony Thomas
ATH – 5-9, 160, 4.41
Los Angeles, Calif. (Crenshaw HS)
U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN

2010 Stats:

114 carries 1,299 yards (11.4 yards per carry) 18 touchdowns
 16 catches for 359 yards (22.4 avg.) four tds
defense,42 tackles five interceptions totaling 122 return yards
voted MVP by the City Section coaches, All-City first-team on defense and City Section Player of the Year

Team record: 12-2, 5-0 league, City Section Champions

Inner city Los Angeles has produced some amazing athletes, but De’Anthony Thomas is the one other athletes talk about.

A legend since his Pop Warner days, he’s been compared to Reggie Bush and Percy Harvin.  Rapper Snoop Dogg nicknamed him when he was 12 years old. Reporter Ramona Shelburne from espnlosangeles.com relates the story:

Thomas played for the Crenshaw Bears. Snoop coached the Rowland Heights Raiders.

The first time they played at Diamond Bar High, Thomas’ Bears won 52-0.

“After the game, Snoop came down out of the press box and called me over,” Thomas recalls. “He asked me what my name was and I told him it was De’Anthony.”

“He was like, ‘Not any more. I’m going to name you the ‘Black Mamba.'”

Thomas is an explosive wonder on the football field.  Rahim Moore, an All-American safety who starred first at rival Dorsey High and then at UCLA, told Shelburne,  “Everything you’ve heard is true,” he said. “He’s probably the best player to come out of the city, ever. He’s probably the best athlete, in any sport, to come out of Crenshaw, ever.” Running and receiving, he scored a touchdown one out of every six times he touched the ball.  He’s small, but extraordinarily elusive and fast, with the fastest 200 meter time of any high schooler in the country last year, 20.61 seconds.  He’s been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40, 10.57 in the 100, the Los Angeles City Champion. 

For nine months he was a USC commit.  He’d grown up rooting for the Cardinal and Gold, desiring to join the long line of legendary tailbacks at the legendary school just a few miles from home.  But within days of Signing Day he made a surprise visit to Eugene and the Ducks.  The offense was perfect for him.  Chip Kelly’s innovative style would get him the ball in the open field.  He loved the atmosphere in Eugene, felt really comfortable.  It was clean and green, a nice campus.

On Signing Day he held a press conference for 6 p.m., the room crowded with reporters, cameras and well-wishers.  Thomas waited until 6:45, then came out head-to-toe in Oregon gear.  The rumors were true. The five-star recruit, number one athlete in the country, was officially a Duck.  Oregon had the #1, #2 and #5 athletes in the country in Thomas, Colt Lyerla and Christian French.

Thomas’ speed and game-breaking ability get the headlines, but what’s less well known about him is his humility and work ethic.  He’s a great teammate who took younger kids under his wing, and an extremely hard worker.  His high school coach Robert Garrett doesn’t talk about the touchdowns and the dazzling 11.4 yards per carry; he talks about the effort DAT gives in practice.  De’Anthony told Ben Glicksman of  si.com,  “I just grind to be the best. I practice hard.”

These are the results of all that hard work and God-given talent:

Thomas is a gifted runner with superb vision and change of direction.  He’s Quizz Rodgers with three extra gears, hard to find in the backfield, impossible to catch in the open field, with the power and toughness to run through somebody when he has to.  He has marvelously soft hands and plays with great desire, a hunger for the end zone.  An electric, dynamic athlete, he can dominate a game with a dozen amazing plays, not needing a volume of touches to make an impact.  He’s small but he plays big.  Watch him as a cornerback, sticking his nose in there like a 220-lb. linebacker, displaying the best kind of leadership, a consistent example with a fierce winning attiitude. A home run threat every time he touches the ball, imagine him lined up in the slot at Oregon, covered by a linebacker or a nickleback. It’s staggering to think of him in just two months, as the fifth option in a loaded lineup.  Les Miles has utterly no idea.

Thomas sets his goals high.  He told si.com he intends to win a Heisman.  Already he’s thinking about the future, vowing to return to coach at Crenshaw and launch a career in acting.  His favorite movie is Pulp Fiction, favorite actor Ving Rhames.  Fitting, because Thomas’ ability in the open field is like a hypodermic needle straight to the heart, pure adrenalin, counteracting a nearly lethal dose of Tigers, Huskies, Trojans and Bears.