'08 Unwrapped: Devin Thomas

More than a decade ago, Stanford landed speed and playmaking in the Lone Star State from heralded tailback Anthony Bookman. The Cardinal have tried in Texas since but failed to replicate the success of the South Grand Prairie burner. Today new hope is found at San Antonio Madison High School, where running back Devin Thomas owns 4.4 speed, the city rushing record and a Stanford offer.

It was a sensational junior season for San Antonio (Tex.) High School running back Devin Thomas.  Playing in just nine games, the 5'11" 190-pound athlete carried for more than 200 yards per game and picked up 9.3 yards per carry.  He scored 23 touchdowns while gobbling up 1,891 yards.  Thomas was named First-Team All-State by the AP in Class 5A, the highest classification of high school football in Texas.

"I did pretty good," Thomas offers.  "I had a good O-line, so I can't take all the credit.  I had a great O-line.  I had almost 1,900 yards in nine games because I didn't play the first game of the season.  I had gotten a bruised rib in a scrimmage, so they wanted me to sit out a game to be on the safe side."

Thomas played the entirety of that special season before turning 16.  What he did on October 6, 2006 was all the more impressive at the age of 15.  The Madison junior set the city rushing record with 487 yards against Reagan High School, a feat his feet accomplished on just 28 carries.  The first offensive play of the game after the opening kickoff, Thomas ripped off a run of 53 yards.  The next play, he scored from 22 yards out.  After the Madison defense made a stop and gave the ball back to the offense, Thomas scored on a 50-yard scamper.

"One of guys who guys who kept our stats told me that I had 203 yards in just the first quarter," he recalls.  "It was a fun game.  I ended up having 487 yards.  I didn't even know I had that much until one of the reporters told me."

All told, Thomas scored six touchdowns in the game.

"We could have had more, but we had some turnovers," he notes.  "It was a close game we ended up winning, 48-43."

"I have some pretty good feet, and I have good breakaway speed when I get in the open and when I hit the hole," Thomas describes of his running.  "I'm going to work on cutting so that I cut better and put some moves on people.  Usually I just outrun them.  I'm really going to work on getting my knee strong, so that I can cut better.  I'm also going to work on my blocking because that was something I need to fix and get better on.  Also watching more film."

Madison also did not enjoy the kind of team success which Thomas wants to taste again as a senior.

"We didn't have the season we wanted to have.  We went 5-5," he laments.  "We started off good.  We started off 5-1, and we went downhill after that.  I was kind of a leader but I didn't step up fully like I should have, so I'm really stepping up this year.  We didn't really have leaders last year like we should have, and everybody knows it."

Though the city of San Antonio knows all about Thomas, his name has not been in the national spotlight this spring, while he runs track rather than attending football combines.  That has kept his blazing speed from making the public record, with no 40 clocked since a 4.45 at high school last season.  He has run a 10.72 (hand-timed) recently in the 100m.

"After the football season, I gained 20 pounds, so I have to get used to my weight," Thomas comments.

There was no camp or combine necessary for Texas A&M to extend a scholarship offer to the San Antonio running back in early February, and the Aggies are top of mind for Thomas.

"It's close to home," he explains.  "I could probably get a chance to play early and get a good education because that's what I really want."

Since A&M first took the plunge, scholarship offers have come from New Mexico State, Arkansas, Duke and most recently Stanford.  He also has an interest in Northwestern, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Minnesota.  Thomas' last offer out West is the one that has put the breaks on a college commitment that he was preparing to make between Arkansas and Texas A&M.

"I was, but now with Stanford offering me, I'm thinking I might just wait a little bit more and see who else offers me.  I want to get it all in so I can make a final decision," Thomas states.  "I was happy about it because Stanford is a really good school.  I know that I could get a good education there, too.  The only thing about it is that it's far.  That's the only bad thing about it."

Thomas' comments beg the obvious question: is the distance from home a big hurdle in the Cardinal's pursuit of the running back?

"It's big, but my mom and my dad trust me to make the best decision," he answers.  "I want to stay close to home, but if it's not for me, then they know that I'm making the decision for myself.  They said that they don't have to go to college; I have to go by myself.  They said that if I'm not happen, then that's my own fault.  [laughs]  They already put that all on my shoulders."

Though his newest offer from Stanford has given Thomas food for thought, he is still working toward a verbal commitment before starting his senior season.  With distance a stated concern and a timeline for his decision before the NCAA allows official visits, that would likely require some unofficial visit to The Farm to give the Cardinal a chance of unseating the Aggies and Razorbacks.  Thomas at first thought that could be a longshot, given then distance and cost for his family.  Then his father came to him with an idea.

"My dad is an administrator for communities and schools, and he helps a lot of kids out.  He helps them get into college," Thomas explains.  "He's supposed to be taking some kids to San Francisco this summer, and wherever he's going is supposed to be close to Stanford.  He and I have been talking about me going and trying to check out Stanford out."

The lead Cardinal recruiter for Thomas is defensive tackles coach and recruiting coordinator Lance Anderson, who communicated Stanford's offer in late April.

"He talked about how the education is like Harvard, Yale and the Ivy League schools, yet they have a good football team, too.  Just knowing if football doesn't get me where I want to go, I'll have a good education," the recruit relates.  "I'll have something to fall back on, just in case something were to happen to me."

Thomas carries a 3.6 GPA at Madison High School.  He scored a 1330 on the SAT last year (410M, 470W, 450R), which he admits to taking without preparation.  Thomas intends to retake the standardized test and boost all of his scores for Stanford.

Academics are certainly part of the equation for Thomas' college decision, though there are other factors at the forefront of his thinking.

"I really want to get a chance to play early," he says.  "That and just an overall good education and good school in general.  I don't want to go to a school where I'm not going to be happy for four years."

The last edition of Scout.com's Texas Top 100 slotted Devin Thomas as the #16 overall prospect in the state.  He is an explosive runner with a recruitment worth watching closely, so stay tuned for his latest in the coming weeks and months.

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