Thomas Used Spring To Make Splash

Michael Thomas came to Ohio State as a bit of an unknown, having prepped in California and then attended Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. It's safe to say people are learning that the true freshman wide receiver can play after he turned in a solid spring, including a standout performance in the spring game.

Michael Thomas introduced himself to Ohio State football fans with 12 catches in the annual spring game Saturday in Ohio Stadium.

He had already done so to members of the Ohio State secondary.

Speaking a week before the game, a number of Buckeye pass defenders were asked which receiver had impressed them as the team searched for playmakers during Urban Meyer's first spring.

The answer for each was Thomas.

"I think Michael Thomas," sophomore starting cornerback Bradley Roby said. "He's a freshman. He made a couple of plays today. I've really been in his ear. When he first got here I saw the potential in him, so I've been working with him, trying to get him better because he can really play early this year. I can see the potential in him. He's a guy to look out for."

Added third corner Doran Grant, "I feel like Mike Thomas has made a great impact so far on the offense. He's been making plays. He's working on his ball security a little bit, but he's making plays and being productive as a receiver."

In other words, those on the team weren't surprised when Thomas hooked up with Scarlet quarterback Braxton Miller a dozen times for 131 yards during their team's 20-14 victory in the spring game.

The fact that the two were able to have such chemistry so early is no surprise to Miller, as the two worked together in January 2011 at the Under Armour All-American Game. That link is one of the reasons Thomas, a four-star prospect coming out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, ended up at Ohio State.

"We connected down there, and he just wanted to come play with me," Miller told reporters after the spring game. "Just more excitement. He goes up for the ball. He gets jacked after the catch. That's what we're looking for."

Thomas showed that leaping ability throughout the spring, using his 6-2, 193-pound frame to his advantage. Perhaps his most impressive moment of the spring game a week before the spring game when he skied over two defensive players – including safety Christian Bryant, who was injured on the play – to make a leaping catch along the sideline and still came down on the field of play.

Thomas has worked to get to that point. He was just a three-star prospect and the No. 98 receiver in the country as a senior in high school in the class of 2011 and didn't have his first offer until midway through his final campaign at Woodland Hills Taft despite being the nephew of former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

That was largely because he was a late bloomer, and his time at Fork Union helped him become a sought-after prospect. There, he also developed a relationship with Ohio State quarterback-to-be Cardale Jones, and Thomas made his commitment to the Buckeyes in October.

Upon arrival in January, he found a new program than the one he pledged to. Thomas gave his verbal to Luke Fickell but arrived in Columbus to find Urban Meyer in charge, and all Thomas did was go to work to impress the new head coach.

"About the first scrimmage, he started to come on," Meyer said after the spring game. "Unfortunately he's going the wrong direction at some points in time, but he's very talented. He's a kid that is working nonstop. He's our most dedicated receiver as a true freshman. I'm not surprised he had that type of day today."

Even his breakout performance in the spring game didn't keep him from continuing to spend time on the practice field. Immediately after his team's return to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center after pulling in a dozen passes in front of 80,000-plus Buckeye fans, Thomas was continuing to work on his hands.

"We work all the time," Miller said. "I pick him up and we go work out and watch film, catch some balls. He's on the JUGS right now before I left. He's just growing up, trying to be a good receiver."

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