Oregon has recently become a skill player factory, with multiple upperclassmen with the acceleration and quickness to make NFL rosters, including LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas.
But freshman De’Anthony Thomas is already putting special teams coaches to bed.
Thomas is far from being the Oregon Ducks’ secret weapon; he was the most heralded recruit in Chip Kelly’s latest recruiting class and one of the fastest players in recent memory to come out of Los Angeles.
The hype does not faze this 5’8" running back. He’s been able to make an impact in both an offense and special teams for this Oregon team. He has been a terror in the open field with a mix of quickness, closing speed and awareness that can be seen in this recent run-back against USC.
In this play, arguably the best kick return of this college season, Thomas makes two NFL-caliber cuts that only a few elite runners can make.
The first is early on after he fakes a handoff and almost stops a dime, but manages to maintain a quick pace before heading for the seam downfield; one can’t help but be reminded of Hester with that elite juke.
Later down the sideline he has the vision and awareness to trust his blockers and make the necessary cut towards the middle of field and the end zone.
He certainly has the skill set, but in addition, Thomas has been nicknamed "The Black Mamba." Perhaps he’s destined to become the Kobe of the return game.