After a tremendous amount of speculation swirled that the 2013 season would be the last for Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas, that speculation is now official according to a prepared statement by Thomas given to GoDucks.com
In the statement released on Sunday, Thomas said he was leaving school to pursue his dream of playing professional football.
“I am officially withdrawing from the University of Oregon to pursue a professional career in the NFL,” Thomas said on Sunday.
“I want to express my deepest appreciation and thanks to the University and all of my teammates, coaches and fans. I look forward to staying connected to the University and visiting the sidelines as often as possible.”
The decision to move on from Oregon isn’t surprising considering Thomas’ talent and how much he’ll be able to support his family with a job in the NFL.
Although Thomas’ junior year wasn’t his best, due in most part to an injured ankle, he’s still No. 3 in school history in all-purpose yards ( 5,345 ) behind Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James.
He also holds Oregon records in kickoff return yards ( 1,885 ) and an average of 17.1 yards per punt return.
“De’Anthony has been a spectacular talent in college football and has been a part of some of the most memorable plays in the history of the University of Oregon,” said Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich
“We wish him success going forward with his career.”
Thomas, who came to Oregon from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, has long been thought of as a game changer in the NFL if used properly.
Draft experts have suggested that Thomas doesn’t have the stature ( 5’9 – 175 lbs ) to be an every down running back, however he possesses the speed and agility to return kicks and play in the slot as a receiver.
“I will certainly hate to see De’Anthony leave, but I understand and agree with his decision to enter the 2014 NFL draft,” said running backs coach Gary Campbell.
“He’s had an exciting career at Oregon, and now it’s time to move on to the next level. I wish him mega success in his new endeavors.”
Thomas now joins junior corner back Terrance Mitchell as the second Oregon player this season who’s elected to leave school for professional football. While Thomas and Mitchell have definitively announced their decisions, fellow junior ( corner back ) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has yet to announce his.
Certainly Thomas and Mitchell have solid opportunities to find jobs in the NFL, but it’s Ekpre-Olomu who most believe will be the next Oregon star to find success in the league.
In his final game in a Duck uniform at the Valero Alamo Bowl, Thomas carried the ball 6 times for 62 yards.
On the season, Thomas played in 10 games and carried the ball 96 times for 594 yards with 8 touchdowns. Thomas was also No. 4 on the team in receptions with 22 for 246 yards and 1 touchdown.
Thomas also led Oregon in kickoff returns with 21 for 513 yards and 1 touchdown.
VIDEO: Watch some of De’Anthony Thomas’ Oregon highlights by clicking on the image shown above.