Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma's roster, one player at a time

Ahmad Thomas is the perfect back end of the Oklahoma defense

During the next two months leading up to the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, Sooners Illustrated will breakdown the Oklahoma Sooners roster, starting with Jarvis Baxter (No. 1 on the roster) and working all the way down to Marquise Overton (No. 98) and the incoming freshmen.

We’ll look at last year’s performance, the best-case scenario for this season – without projecting injuries – and what each player means to the short-term or long-term success of the Sooners.

 

http://www.scout.com/player/161771-ahmad-thomas

No. 13 – S Ahmad Thomas (6-foot, 199 pounds)

75 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 3 PBUs

 

What happened last year: In a little less than a year, Thomas went from potential depth chart casualty late in his sophomore season to nearly indispensable midway through his junior year at Oklahoma. His growth is really still amazing: Growing up as a leader, as a player and as a person. Thomas became the prototypical free safety that allowed the engine of Oklahoma’s defense to run. Before last year, he was more of a worry than a strength. He’s now one of the leaders on the defense.

Level of importance for Sooners (1-10): 8. Big, game-changing plays won’t be needed from Thomas this year. There are other players on the defense that can do that – although far fewer than last season. Oklahoma needs Thomas to be a constant leader, and a player who doesn’t make too many mistakes and makes up for other players that do. Thomas’ talent is good enough to be just that. Oklahoma can’t lose Thomas, just like a few other players on the defense, to injury or lack of production. Thomas needs to be a safety net once again.

Best-case scenario for this season: Another year on the development curve from last year could make Thomas a possible early-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft. But growth like what we saw last year isn’t realistic. Thomas would be a first-team All Big 12 safety and an All-American if that curve continued. Instead, a replication of last year’s success would be a fine season for the senior in his third year as a starter. Do that and Thomas would be a potential third-day draft pick next April. A third 75-tackle season is well within reach, but Thomas’ true success isn’t necessarily statistical. His quality will be in denying opponents and allowing his teammates to make more plays.


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