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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Sweet beginnings: De'Anthony Thomas

By Ted Miller

ESPN.com is looking at potential "Sweet Beginnings" -- players who are about to make highly anticipated debuts -- and our Pac-12 selection is Oregon freshman running back De'Anthony Thomas, who's "Sweet Beginning" started on Twitter.

How so? Well, if your Twitter feed included people watching the Ducks practice this preseason, what you got was "De'Anthony Thomas just did this," "De'Anthony Thomas just did that" and "I can't believe what De'Anthony Thomas just did" over and over again.

Neither The Oregonian's Ken Goe nor Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard are known for hyperventilating over young players with lots of flowery talk of certain greatness, yet Goe called Thomas a "flash of electricity," and Moseley simply said Thomas was "phenomenal throughout camp."

The 5-foot-9, 173-pound native of Los Angeles, who notoriously spurned a commitment to USC to sign with Oregon, is not listed on the Ducks two-deep depth chart in advance of the marquee matchup with LSU in Cowboys Stadium for a pretty good reason: LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner are one of the better running back tandems in the country. But you can be certain Thomas get at least a few touches against the Tigers. And more as the season wears on.

"De’Anthony definitely is a great, great football player," Ducks running backs coach Gary Campbell told The Oregonian. "He’s going to be able to help us early, I believe. And one day he’s going to be an outstanding football player.”

Thomas, nicknamed "The Black Mamba" at Crenshaw High School, was rated the nation's No. 16 overall prospect last year by ESPN Recruiting. His senior season, he rushed for 1,306 yards -- averaging 11.4 yards per carry -- and caught 16 passes for 349 yards and totaled 27 touchdowns.

More than a few folks have compared his speed and ability to change direction to Reggie Bush.

While football is a game of doing, not talking, Thomas appears fully capable of walking the walk in 2011.