When Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas enters a room, what’s typically noticed first is his wide smile and friendly demeanor.
What stands out next is his simple love of putting on the pads and playing the game of football.
It’s an easy conclusion to make.
Just listen to his words ( or in this case, read them ).
Thomas describes the game he loves as all about having ‘fun’,… and making big plays that make the game ‘fun’.
Take for instance, this question at Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl media day in Scottsdale on Monday.
Question: Everybody talks about your speed,…Is that going to be an advantage in this game?
Answer: I think the advantage of us is going to be out there having fun…celebrating as a team,..just playing Oregon football.
If you’ve followed Thomas throughout the course of the year, it seems every moment and every challenge in DAT’s life is met with wide eyed optimism,…and fun!
And why shouldn’t it be?
Since Thomas arrived on the University of Oregon campus and put on the Ducks uniform, he’s quickly become a fan favorite. Not just because of his talent, but also because of his infectious youthful exuberance.
In Thomas’ world, football isn’t work, it’s simply fun. Asked about his second trip to a BCS game, you’d think there’d be butterflies and nervous tension.
Not for Thomas. He simply smiles and tells the large group of reporters he feels good and envisions an evening of ‘fun’ when the No. 4 Ducks meet the No. 5 Wildcats in the 42nd Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Thursday in Glendale, Arizona.
“I’m feeling pretty good about it” said Thomas at Monday’s media day. “Just out there waiting to have fun, and celebrate with my team.”
You see the pattern?
Even when talking about Kansas State and facing the stout Wildcats defense led by linebacker Arthur Brown, Thomas see’s the challenge much like a youngster see’s the monkey bars on the school yard playground.
“They have some pretty good inside linebackers that like to run to the ball” explains Thomas. “We got a lot of speed on this team,…make them miss in space, celebrate the win and have fun.”
When talking about Brown specifically, Thomas certainly credits the Wildcat senior linebacker with great football skills and talent, but the two all-star players seem to have something else in common – a special kinship when it comes to playing the game of football.
“Arthur Brown, he’s a great player” said Thomas. “Out there, very physical player. Runs to the ball a lot. I feel like he likes to have fun out there.”
The game of football should absolutely be fun.
But for De’Anthony Thomas, it seems to be much more than that.
It’s the fun of the game that creates his drive and ultimate success. For others, success likely comes from hard work, blood, sweat and a lot of tears, not the simple love and joy of the game.
That’s not to say Thomas doesn’t work hard for his success, there’s no doubt he does.
What’s different is, he simply see’s the game through the innocent eyes of a young athlete who plays football for no other reason than the love of the game.
How do we know?
He simply tells us time and time again – It’s fun!
( Watch De’Anthony Thomas’ media day interview by clicking the video box above )