oregon sports

Is De’Anthony Thomas a Heisman candidate in 2012?

No, but it’s not his fault

De’Anthony Thomas is one of the most exciting players in all of college football, and heading into the 2012 season, he was considered a potential favorite for the Heisman Trophy award.

Now, nine weeks into the year, the Oregon Ducks megastar has fallen off the map a bit when it comes to true Heisman contention.

De’Anthony Thomas has been as outstanding as anybody on his team, but the way he’s been used is what will likely prevent him from taking home the award this season.


Thomas has been touted all season for his ability to score on so few touches. ESPN even made an effort against Arizona State to track how many times he touched the ball in anticipation of remarkable play after remarkable play.

The problem with this? That means Thomas isn’t touching the ball nearly as often as his talent indicates he should.

Thomas is averaging a touchdown every 8.2 times he touches the ball on offense. That number was even more impressive at the beginning of the season, but the thing to remember is that if he were making plays as often as his other backfield members, he’d be much more recognizable on the stat sheets in the national spotlight.

De'Anthony THomas Punt Return

De’Anthony Thomas is one of the most exciting players in college football, but 2012 won’t be his year for Heisman contention. Photo Credit: Oregon Football

Another reason Thomas doesn’t get the touches he deserves is because the Ducks are downright dominant without wearing him down. If this team can rest him in the second halves of games, limiting his chances of getting hurt, why wouldn’t they?

Return Game

Thomas is as dangerous as anybody in the country in the return game, as evident by his Reggie Bush-esque playmaking skills against the Colorado Buffaloes in week nine.

The problem is, teams recognize that, and they’re intentionally kicking away from him game in and game out.

There’s no rule in college football that says you must give your opponent a good look at the ball, and teams are taking full advantage of that this year. Thomas is a playmaker, but if he’s not given the opportunity to make plays, he’ll remain under the radar.

All-Purpose Style

Anybody who can make plays all over the field the way Thomas does should be recognized as one of the more dangerous and versatile weapons that a team can find. But despite the advantages that come with Thomas’ skill set, it all comes down to how he’s used.

Is Thomas a running back? How about a wide receiver? According to Chip Kelly, he’s neither.

Occupying the “Taser” position this year, Thomas has been able to display his abilities in every aspect of the offense. Unfortunately for the sophomore, that means he’s not carrying the load in any one particular area.

Kenjon Barner

Thomas may not be carrying the team on his shoulders, which means that there is another player in the backfield who absolutely is.

Kenjon Barner.

Kenjon Barner has been an absolute workhorse this season for the Ducks. He has carried the ball 141 times and has put the ball in the end zone 14 times on the ground despite rarely playing in the second halves of games.

Having accumulated more than 1,000 all-purpose yards so far, if anybody is going to win the Heisman on this team, it’s going to be the senior.

With Barner gone in 2013, Thomas should become The Man on campus. As the No. 1 option on offense next year, 2012 will be long gone in the mind of the Black Mamba, and an invite to New York should be sent his way by the time his career at Oregon comes to an end.


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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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