Thomas Making Most of CB Opportunity

Redshirt freshman Ian Thomas went from burred on the receivers depth chart to preparing for a start at cornerback against Fresno State. Approaching kickoff of his first college game, Thomas discussed the position change and facing Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.

If Ian Thomas were coaching Fresno State, targeting the young Rutgers secondary would be a big part of the game plan.

With a converted receiver, first-year starter and Western Michigan transfer running things, the inexperienced Rutgers secondary can expect to be tested early against Derek Carr and the Fresno State offense.

"Definitely, why wouldn't they? That only makes sense," Thomas said when asked about Carr targeting him Thursday night. "We have a young corner in myself and then we have a new corner at the position starting. So why wouldn't they?"

Thomas saw plenty of room to improve going into training camp, but feels ready to be challenged by the high-powered Fresno State offense.

"I think I did [improve], coming up and making tackles, solo tackles," Thomas said. "[I am] just knowing my assignments, slicing when I am supposed to slice, blitz when I am supposed to blitz. I think I did well."

Thomas is a redshirt freshman that moved to cornerback after a semester at wide receiver. A Signing Day splash for coach Kyle Flood immediately after taking over as head coach, Thomas projected as a receiver and never saw himself as a corner out of high school.

Flash forward three semesters and he will start his first game as a cornerback alongside Gareef Glashen.

"No, I really didn't," said Thomas when asked if he saw himself as a starting cornerback last year. "… That is just the nature of the game. I am just glad to be back out there. I redshirted one whole year so it will be fun just to get back on the field and finally strap it up again."

Thomas is nine months into his position change, meaning he has been a cornerback at Rutgers longer than he played wide receiver.

At the suggestion of now NFL cornerback Logan Ryan, Thomas made the move at bowl practice and did not look back.

"It was Logan's idea and it turned out to be a great idea," Thomas said. "He told coach Flood and two weeks later, I was playing defense."

Ryan did not get to spend time during the season learning from Ryan and the other cornerbacks now gone for the NFL, but he still talks to them for pointers.

Set to start him as Ryan's replacement Thursday, Flood sees a big future for Thomas.

"All bowl practice it was pretty easy to see he was going to be good," Flood said. "How good? We didn't know at that point, but he's taken advantage of the opportunity both on the field and the opportunity that the depth chart has presented. I'm proud of him and I think he's ready to go out there and do it on gameday."

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