Oregon Football: Why De'Anthony Thomas Is the Ducks Most Valuable Player in 2012

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2012

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 26: Running back De'Anthony Thomas #6 of the Oregon Ducks runs down the sidelines with a pass reception in the third quarter of the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Autzen Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 49-21 and clinched the Pac-12 North Division. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Last year, Oregon got a huge commitment when De'Anthony Thomas decided to not go to USC and leave town to come to Eugene to play for the Ducks. From the second that that Thomas committed, fans and people around the program knew it was huge and could be a game changer for the Ducks. 

Before I go on, take a second and as an Oregon fan, imagine having to watch your defense try to defend Thomas on the USC offense. Yikes.

Last season, Thomas played as a true freshman and was able to contribute all over the field. On average, Thomas was able to find his way into the end zone every 7.7 times he touched the ball. Regardless if he was taking a handoff, catching a pass or returning a kick/punt, Thomas was always a threat to go the distance. 

With the 2012 season approaching, the Ducks are in a state of transition as Darron Thomas has left a question mark at quarterback and the departure of LaMichael James to the NFL and Tra Carson transferring have left the Ducks thin at running back. On top of that, the Oregon receivers have a lot to prove this year as that position is a perceived weakness of the Ducks offense. 

Enter De'Anthony Thomas.

Thomas has the ability to make life easy for everyone on the offense. While Thomas isn't your typical back that will take 20-30 carries, Thomas will see about seven to 12 carries a game, and with his speed, the yards could add up quickly and also allow for Kenjon Barner to get a breather. 

In the passing game, Thomas has always displayed good hands and the ability to make an impact. Regardless of whom the starting quarterback is, Thomas will be an outstanding outlet and will give the Ducks passing game some punch. 

The one change that fans may see this year is Thomas getting limited work on special teams. While he is a huge weapon, the concern with depth may cause head coach Chip Kelly to protect Thomas from taking additional hits.

In the end, anyway you look at the Oregon offense this year, it will reach its fullest potential with the unique skills of Thomas. If Thomas gets the proper amount of touches and doesn't suffer from a sophomore slump, there is no reason why Thomas will not have an outstanding year and end up in New York in December.