Redshirt sophomore Cody Thomas was legitimately in the picture and in the race. Stoops said it, but few believed it.
OU fans saw Thomas last year. They remember a woefully ineffective Thomas in three starts last season. A Thomas who had more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (2) and couldn’t even complete 50 percent of his passes.
There’s someone who doesn’t, though, remember that Thomas. First-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley doesn’t care about that Thomas, only caring about the one he is working with now.
“I didn’t watch him play last year,” Riley said. “It’s a whole new deal. Last year doesn’t matter. Last year is last year. This is the 2015 version. All those kids are confident in their abilities, and they should be.”
The Thomas that Riley knows is the four-star elite quarterback prospect from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage. Riley was in charge of recruiting the Dallas Metroplex area when he was at Texas Tech so he knew about the capability of Thomas.
All Riley had to do was find a way to harness that and bring out that Thomas and show why he had around 30 offers coming out of high school.
There’s no telling if Thomas is going to win this battle as the quarterback race seems destined to go on for at least another week, but he’s not a token finalist anymore.
Thomas had quality moments in OU’s scrimmage last weekend and seems to be finding that groove once again.
“My decisiveness,” said Thomas about what Riley has helped him with the most. “Playing fast and knowing where to go with the football and getting it out of my hands. I was a little cloudy last year with my decision making. Being decisive and being confident.”
Thomas said he’s not sure if he’s thinking too much last year or why exactly things didn’t pan out the way everybody had hoped for. But he’s happy he has a second chance to try to prove he can be the guy for OU once again.
Part of that came from a commitment he made following the season. Thomas had been trying to juggle both football and baseball during his time in Norman. He knew full well that if football was really going to be his future, it had to have 100 percent of his time.
“I had promised myself before I went into it, if it's getting anything like it was my freshman year, where I'm going from one thing to another, tiring myself out, especially it being an open competition right now, I said I couldn't do it,” Thomas said. “That's what it became so I made the decision and rolled with it.”
And he is indeed rolling with it. One big reason is because of the system. What Riley has brought to Norman is something Thomas knows extremely well, having executed a version of the Air Raid offense back in high school.
The instincts are starting to come back. His mentality is starting to come back, and it’s making a difference on the field.
Riley said he’s not pressuring himself to make a choice right now. His belief remains the same that he has three quality choices. As for Thomas, he’s not concerned, either. He knows what he has to do.
“They never gave us a deadline,” Thomas said. “I’m just doing what I can do. It’s not going to change how I work during practice. I like where I’m at right now.”