Big Ten Football Top 150 Players: No. 123: Michael Thomas, Ohio State WR
No. 123: Michael Thomas, No. 83, WR, Ohio State
2011 Stats: 23 catches, 497 yards, 7 TDs (Fork Union Military Academy, VA)
Ohio State needed a premier athlete at wide receiver, and it might have it in freshman Michael Thomas. Thomas joined the Buckeyes in January after attending prep school in the fall, and he made an instant impact during spring practice, catching 12 passes for 131 yards during the scrimmage. Physically, he's as good as any wideout on the Buckeye roster right now; he's fast, tall and can adjust in mid-air for the catch like a pro.
Spring game aside, Thomas still isn't a starting wide receiver; in Ohio State's most recent depth chart, Thomas is sitting behind Devin Smith at the X receiver position (also known as the split end). He doesn't have the experience or track record that anyone else on the team does, so he's probably going to carry that backup role into Week 1 come September.
Thomas may start the season as a backup, but it seems unlikely that he'll stay in that role all year long. He developed a fantastic rapport with Braxton Miller (who threw all 12 of the passes Thomas caught) during that game, and though it was only one afternoon, it was still a better exhibition than any of the other receivers put on that day—or in all of 2011.
The huge stats might not be there for Thomas in 2012, especially if none of the other receivers falter or get dinged up over the course of the year, but he has undeniable talent and has proven in front of thousands of eyes at Ohio Stadium that he's up to the task of getting thrown to more than a dozen times in one day. Expect Thomas to emerge as a force at wide receiver before the season is out.
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