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Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: De'Anthony Thomas

By Brandon P. Oliver

Sometimes it might seem to be a little bit overdone, but there is simply no way to overstate the impact that De'Anthony Thomas' decision to flip from USC to Oregon has made on both programs.

Thomas is regarded as one of the most talented players to ever come out of Los Angeles. Having attended Crenshaw High School -- in the shadows of the Los Angeles Coliseum -- Thomas was born to be a Trojan. He was committed to USC for nearly a year before changing his mind. The idea of leaving everything behind in South Central L.A. led him to contact the Oregon coaches. The next thing everyone knew he was announcing his decision in a tearful press conference.

And all he has done is set record after record at Oregon while saving his best for the biggest stage.

He led the Ducks in catches as a freshman while becoming the only player in the country to surpass 400 yards rushing, receiving and returning in 2011.

In his first game against the school he spurned on signing day, the Ducks were getting blown out at home until his kickoff return for a touchdown kick-started a rally. The Ducks won their first Rose Bowl in 95 years, Thomas stole the show with two touchdown runs. He took a fly sweep 64 yards for a touchdown, but that paled in comparison to a 91-yard dash. He finished the Rose Bowl with 314 total yards on just 11 touches.

He ended his freshman season with  an Oregon freshman record 18 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2012, opponents kicked away from Thomas any chance they got. When they did kick to him, he showed them why others avoided him at all costs.

"The Black Mamba," as he is so-well known, ended his sophomore campaign in style with another breathtaking BCS Bowl performance. Kansas State learned quickly to avoid him at all costs. Thomas scored the game's first two touchdowns as he took the opening kickoff 94 yards for a score, and followed it up with a 23-yard TD catch-and-run. He finished the Fiesta Bowl with 195 total yards on just eight touches.

In two BCS Bowl games, Thomas has a total of 509 yards and four TD on just 17 touches.

His career stats can be measured in numbers, but his impact goes beyond the score sheet. Signing Thomas will always be known as one of the greatest coups in recruiting history. It was important in the sense that he was one of the top high school players in the country, but even more so, in the fact that he is a legend in Los Angeles and losing him to the Ducks shook the Trojan faithful.