Sophomore Travis Thomas' Notre Dame career was supposed to take off in 2004, but a case of "fumblitas" hit the talented running back, and he rarely saw the field after his first few games. The swift back played in 10 games and had 25 carries last season, the junior-to-be only gained 25 yards on those carries, and the frustration set in.
Thomas has put all that behind him now, and he just wants to focus on the future at this point.
"Winter conditioning went really well. A lot of the techniques were real similar to what we did last year so it was just a matter of going out there and refreshing your mind," Thomas said. "I feel like I was a little ahead of the pack as far as conditioning went, so I feel like I'm in a good position conditioning-wise coming into spring ball.
Thomas had his first opportunity to impress the coaches on Tuesday, and the talented Washington, Pa. native said the day couldn't have been better.
"It really felt good to be outside for a change and things went well," Thomas said. "I think it will be one of the best days weather-wise we will have all spring."
With a new coaching staff comes new opportunities for Thomas, and the sophomore says he's enjoyed getting to know this new staff.
"They are really knowledgeable about what they do," he said. "They're really energetic and excited about this new season and this makes everyone else grasp this same mentality.
"With the Saturday morning workouts, we kind of got to know every coach and what their personality is like and what they are all about. So things are going well right now and I'm excited about practice and the season."
The former high school star red-shirted his freshman season and has three years of eligibility remaining. We asked Thomas what he thought of the new playbook he's had to learn in a short period of time.
"Wow, the book is really big with a lot of new concepts and terminology," Thomas said. "But the more we go over it and understand things, the easier it gets."The Washington, Pa. native is excited about the future of the offense and what that could mean for the running backs in this new offense.
"I really like it," he said. "We have two good backs in Darius (Walker) and myself, and Rashon (Powers-Neal) and Justin Hoskins as well. So I think we make a good combination for the backfield."
Thomas knows he'll have to make a quick impression on the new Irish coaching staff, but he says he looks forward to the challenge.
"I think that's what I go for. That's what the players like to hear," Thomas said of the wide open competition at all positions this spring. "They like to know that every time they step out on the field, they are fighting for a position.
"I think it makes the team better and makes everyone individually better. So knowing that every day out there might mean a starting spot, it gives everyone a little extra boost out there everyday, and it's what people like to hear and to go for."
Thomas also contributed on special teams last season, and he's hopeful to get the opportunity again this season.
"I'm looking at the depth chart now and they have me listed at a few positions so I am hoping to make am impact there somewhere," Thomas said. "The highlight of my career so far is just playing and being the starter for one game, and I hope to get that feeling back."
A chance was all Thomas was looking for this spring, and with a new coaching staff, he'll get that chance. Knowing Thomas as well as we do, he'll make the most of that opportunity.