The Future Arrives

There are a number of obvious stories heading into this Fall Camp: The unsettled situation at QB, the health of Gerhart, the receiver depth after Sherman, etc. Given the opportunity to request a couple of the players after Friday night's first practice, we talked with a couple of key freshmen we believe are going to have a tremendous impact on the Stanford football program in the years to come.


One of the most interesting and obvious developments as camp kicked off Friday was the designation of Houston native Michael Thomas as a wide receiver, wearing #3. A terrific athlete capable of playing a number of roles on either side of the ball, Thomas was thought by some to start as a corner, but the staff obviously feels he can help strengthen the receiving corps right away. The first thing that struck me was that this is one excited young man, one who is clearly thrilled to be at Stanford and honored to be on the Cardinal football team

The Bootleg: We are here with newly arrived freshman Michael Thomas, from Houston, Texas. First of all, welcome! We are all very excited to have you out here. Not that this was a position change, but you have now been "designated" a wide receiver, you are wearing the "red" (jersey). Obviously you would have been comfortable on either side of the ball... 

Michael Thomas: Yes sir, and it isn't necessarily a permanent thing. The first day I came in expecting to play cornerback, that's where I got recruited at - Coach Harbaugh smiled and said [dropping into a pretty decent Harbaugh voice imitation] "Well, Mike, we fought for you and we brought you back to the good side!" He said it just like that. Coming in, playing receiver, I mean, I played a little bit in high school so it was a little easier transition. So I am just making the most of it right now, trying to prove myself out here.  

TB: But you aren't quite as used to catching the ball since you were primarily a quarterback, right?

MT:  Yes sir, playing quarterback I got to "throw" the ball a little more. Just out here catching with Drew [freshman QB and fellow Houston native Andrew Luck] and the rest of the quarterbacks, it has got my hands better, but I know I have got to improve a lot.

TB: Now you know that even on this first day of practice, people are watching you closely enough to wonder what happened after you made a nice catch, but you let the ball get away. Where were your push-ups? [receivers typically drop down for 10 push-ups after a drop]

MT: [Laughing] Yes sir! I've got to work on that. I think it was Johnson who was covering me [fellow freshman Johnson Bademosi, a defensive back] He was just messin' with me! It's cool!

TB: Clearly the staff is attracted to your play-making capability. That must feel good to be wanted by the offense this early in your career!

MT:  Yes sir, it's an honor. I've got some older guys in front of me who I've got to stand behind and learn from. But I know that they brought me in here to make plays and I am just going to continue to learn and whenever I am called upon I am going to try to make the best of that opportunity to do what I have been brought here to do.

TB: Now,  you're something of an "elitist" coming here to Stanford, how do you feel about this blue-collar approach Coach Harbaugh has taken here this Fall?

MT: [Laughing again!] It was great! It brought a lot of us back down to reality. We come in - we all had success in high school and everything, but as we come into this program we've got to learn that a lot of guys they look at Stanford and they say, you know, we're kind of the bottom of the Pac-10, so we know we've got to work our way up.

TB: You're saying your opponents are not going to just look at your high school GPAs and give you a little extra cushion? 

MT: Naw! Grades, SATs, they have nothing to do with it out here!  It has to be proven on this gridiron. So we come in here and we're going to keep working. Like Coach Harbaugh said, we've gotta crawl our way up! We'll keep workin', keep boundin', keep competin' out here 'til we prove to everybody in the Pac-10 that we belong in that "elite" group.

TB: Put on your amateur psychology hat - how do you feel about that whole "blue-collar theme" as an approach? Pretty fun, eh?

MT: Yeah, it's certainly been entertaining..

TB: Coming here to college, you are going to have to balance school and football, but we assume it is both exciting and daunting?

MT: Yes, it is exciting. A couple of us are already taking summer school classes right now so it is challenging - in fact we had a paper due today. We got it done, and we're out here competing, tryin' to earn a spot. We don;t have time to sit and think about it. We've just got to take it and run with it. 

TB: Now you have seen your own freshman classmates here. Who has really raised your eyebrows among your contemporaries?

MT: Johnson Bademosi! He came in. I mean, I thought I worked hard. Johnson Bademosi came in hungry ready to take anyone's spot who can't stand in his way and I like that about him. Not a freshman mentality. I like that. That pushes everyone around him and not just the freshmen, the upperclassmen too, seeing that a freshman is not afraid to come in and compete for a spot!

TB: Thanks. You're a great interview, Michael!

MT:  [Huge smile!] Thank you, sir!


First of all, remember this one, people. He is an impressive-looking, athletic kid. Looks like his frame is going to handle more weight as he matures physically. Very well-spoken, poised and pleasant. There is a behind-the-scenes buzz that he is going to be one to watch. I had a bit of a "Tank Williams" flashback on first impression. If Michael Thomas and Johnson Bademosi are indicative of the quality of young men that have arrived on the Farm, this class of 2008 could be very special indeed! 

The Bootleg: Welcome to Stanford, Johnson. Let's get this straight, your preferred pronunciation is "Bod-e-mosi"?

Johnson Bademosi: "Bad-e-mosi" {Immediately bringing to mind future nicknames like "Super-Bad" and "Bad-Man"]

TB: Glad to have you at Stanford!

JB: Thanks, it's a long way from home! [Silver Spring, MD near Washington, D.C.]

TB: You were something of a "sleeper" in the '08 class, a lot of folks didn't know much about you, but there's been definite excitement among the staff about your arrival! We are really happy to have you. So we wanted to ask you, how do you feel about joining such an "elitist" program? 

JB: Well, I wouldn't say it's "elitist"...

TB: Just kidding. We've just been joking around about the whole blue-collar thing. What do you think about this "blue collar" theme Coach has brought in - with the mechanics' shirts and stitched-on nametags?

JB:  I think it's great! I think there's no better place for me - the guys on this team are amazing and the coaching staff is great. Coach Harbaugh is hilarious. Last night he just broke out the "We're all blue collar guys - so I got you all blue shirts with your first name on them!" That's creative and that's the kind of guy he is! He's a great coach. 

TB: So you think for the freshmen, the impression has been pretty positive with regard to the attitude around the program?

JB: Definitely! He's all about football and I'm all about football so I think we're a good match for each other.

TB: There is some room for school, isn't there? 

JB: Some a place like Stanford, you've got to make room.

TB: Now you are already deep into it, getting some school work done, right?

JB: Yeah, yeah. I just finished a paper, right before I came out here tonight.

TB: We heard through the channels, you were up awfully late at night, working on those papers!.

JB: Wait, who told you that? [Smiling] Yeah, I was up pretty late, but you know....

TB: Just getting used to it is an adjustment, right?

JB: Yes, I have been having class.

TB: Is your mom going to be able to make it out to any games this year?

JB: Yes, she definitely will, she and my sister.

TB: You have one sibling?

JB: Yes, she goes to the University of Pittsburgh, she's pre-med, doing very well up there.

TB: The West Coast is a long way to come for you, isn't it?.

JB: It is. You know, I miss home a little bit, but I have some family out here. 

TB: I can't believe they have been giving you time to miss home! Now, are you going to be wearing that blue shirt out to parties? Showing the badge of honor?

JB: Oh yeah. I've got the blue shirt, I am going to wear my Stanford hat. 

TB: You fellas have been out here a long time, we'll let you go - stay healthy and have fun! Thanks.

JB: Thank you!

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