Thomas Talks About Career Day

Sophomore running back Derron Thomas is doing everything he can to earn playing time. Saturday against Florida A&M he rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries including a key block in pass protection allowing Kirby Freeman to find Jerrell Mabry in the endzone for a touchdown. What more can Derron do?

Derron Thomas showed explosiveness and big-play ability when he got his opportunity on Saturday.

Thomas, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound sophomore, has always been disregarded by the coaching staff in his career in favor of local favorite Charlie Jones and even Andrew Johnson--who head coach Larry Coker praised all the time despite Johnson being injured.

With Coker not taking a liking to Johnson this fall, freshman Javarris James, with more roots to UM than anyone on the roster, is stepping up as a Coker favorite.

With Tyrone Moss coming back from injury, Thomas was the fourth-string running back Saturday.

All of the running backs who played before him did their thing, but Thomas was the most impressive.

"I felt real comfortable out there," Thomas said. "This is my third year here and I am accustomed to it now."

Despite not being favored by the coaches, Thomas is doing what he can.

"I can't control everything," Thomas said. "I can only control what I can do and let the coaches look at game film and make all of the decisions from there."

"We are probably going to need all of those guys," said Coker on the running back depth. "They can't all play, but I like what I saw. There is competition there and they are going to have to practice well to get playing time on Saturdays."

Although he didn't play until the second half, Thomas racked up 109 yards to lead the team.

He rushed for his first career 100-yard game in just 11 carries.

His longest rush was 23 yards and 6 of his rushes went for 10 yards or more.

"I want to thank the offensive line first for making some big holes to run through," Thomas said. "I was just making my reads and made the first guy miss, that is what running backs are supposed to do--make the first guy miss. I was blessed to do that a couple of times"

Thomas made a lot of guys miss that night, but he saved his most impressive run of the night in his last carry. Thomas took the handoff up the middle before using two spin moves to shed tacklers on his way to a 23-yard gain.

"I just remember coming through the hole and the guy was just sitting back, I could have ran him over or went around him, but I just spun off of him and then I don't know what happened when another man came, instincts or something, but I just spun again."

"I was tired as hell after that play."

While his running ability was clearly evident, some people might not have noticed how he took out a defender in a goal-line situaion to allow Kirby Freeman to complete a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jerrell Mabry.

"I am just trying to be a complete back," Thomas said. "Run hard, pass block, catch the ball, break long runs, and just be as complete as I can be."

You have to believe the coaches will notice that play when watching game film and his overall lack of 'mentals' in the game.


Thomas was the top offensive performer in the spring of 2005 and was awarded by passing up Jones on the depth chart for the top spot. The gap between the two backs was not even close. Thomas consistently broke off big runs against the first unit defense, while Jones struggled to hang on to the football and rarely made a big play.

But in the fall, Moss entered the picture and was the starter as he was recovering from an injury and after the first game, Thomas was replaced by Jones as the back-up tailback.

Then Moss went down with the injury in November against Virginia Tech allowing Jones to step up in his place while Thomas was relegated to mop-up duty behind an inferior offensive line.

Thomas battled through the adversity then and will continue to do so.

When his number is called, you can be assured he will make plays.

Christopher Stock can be reached at

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