NCF Nation: Noble Doss

Departure of UT's Thomas isn't a shock

January, 9, 2010
1/09/10
11:01
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It’s not really a surprise that Texas sophomore safety Earl Thomas declared Friday night for the NFL draft.

[+] EnlargeEarl Thomas
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiTexas' Earl Thomas set a team record with eight interceptions this season.
Thomas is coming off one of the best seasons for a Texas defensive back in school history in 2009. The redshirt sophomore had eight interceptions, which broke Noble Doss’ mark of seven interceptions that was set in 1940. Thomas ran two of them back for touchdowns to set another record.

If there’s such a thing as “The Natural” among defensive backs, it's Thomas. He isn’t overly big or physical (5-foot-10, 197 pounds) but he has the uncanny instincts to stick with any receiver. His skills definitely will translate well to the next level.

Thomas isn't as physically gifted as either Eric Berry of Tennessee or USC’s Taylor Mays. Both figure to be picked ahead of Thomas unless he has an off-the-charts workout for NFL scouts later this spring.

Thomas was a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2009 and would have been the favorite for the award if he had remained for his junior season in 2010.

If he had stayed for another season and had another productive year, it’s not out of the question that Thomas could have developed into the greatest defensive back in Texas football history.

As it is, he’ll be in the conversation with players like Tarell Brown, Cedric and Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Quentin Jammer, Aaron Ross and Nathan Vasher. All left Texas for a career as a starting defensive back in the NFL. Huff and Ross left with Thorpe awards in back-to-back seasons in 2005 and 2006.

With Thomas leaving, sophomore Nolan Brewster could move into the starting job when spring practice begins for the Longhorns late next month.

A more likely scenario might be to move Blake Gideon to the tight safety position to make room for game-breaking defensive back Christian Scott at Gideon’s current position at free safety.

Scott was giving Gideon a serious challenge in fall camp this year before he was academically suspended. His ferocious hits would provide an intimidating presence to the secondary that was missing this year.

But whoever takes over Thomas' spot will be attempting to fill a sizable void that makes Texas’ rebuilding job a little more daunting.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12's news has been dominated by Mike Leach's contract saga the past several days. But we are equal-opportunity Big 12 pundits and believe in keeping our readers informed about stories across the conference.  

Here's are a few Big 12 bits for your lunchtime enjoyment.

  • The impasse between Texas Tech and Leach continued Tuesday as a deadline passed without Leach accepting the school's contract terms. Leach told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams" he couldn't fathom why" he could be fired by school officials. Leach told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price he would rather not head into the season working on his existing contract, but it's out of his hands. And Dallas Morning News blogger Tim McMahon assesses the potential long-term damage for the school if Leach leaves.
  • Alex Jamison of Dawgman.com writes that Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes might be targeted as a potential replacement if Texas Tech makes a coaching change.
  • Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove tells Nadine Babu of Gopherhole.com to look at his overall coaching record rather than his tenure as the Cornhuskers' former defensive coordinator. Cosgrove now works as Minnesota's defensive coordinator after sitting out the past season.
  • Funeral services for former Texas standout defensive back Noble Doss will be Thursday in Austin, John Maher of the Austin American-Statesman reports. Doss, who still holds a share of the Longhorns' career interception record, died Sunday at the age of 88.
  • The Lincoln Journal Star's Steve Sipple advises Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to take the green jerseys off his quarterbacks in the spring game -- at least for a few plays.
  • The Boulder Camera reports that former Illinois State coach Denver Johnson has been hired as Colorado's new offensive line coach. An announcement is expected on Wednesday.

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