Oregon star De'Anthony Thomas to declare for NFL Draft

Oregon star De'Anthony Thomas to declare for NFL Draft
January 5, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas said his right ankle remains sore but he hopes to return to action soon.

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Oregon junior running back/wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas confirmed tonight that he will declare for the NFL Draft.

The official announcement is expected to come soon.

Thomas, reached by phone, said he wanted to get started becoming an entrepreneur and giving back to his community in Los Angeles. 

“I want to help change how (children) look at life and help them realize that college is the best experience in the world,” he said.

Thomas, out of Crenshaw High School, was last seen in Philadelphia attending the Eagles' 26-24 playoff loss to New Orleans. He posted photos of his trip on his Instagram account.

Thomas recently sent some mixed messages about his future on Twitter and Instagram. Pages for both featured a graphic of him in a No. 6 Oregon jersey with the phrase "One More Year" in big letters.

Obviously that didn't mean he would return to Oregon for one more year.

At 5-foot-9, 169-pound Thomas likely projects more as a receiver than running back in the NFL. He most certainly will be a kickoff and punt return threat with his elite speed and open field moves.

Thomas played well at receiver as a freshman running all sorts of complex routes seemingly with great ease when not serving as the third running back behind LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner. That year, Thomas caught 46 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns. As a sophomore playing behind Barner, Thomas still saw time at receiver and caught 45 passes for 445 yards and five touchdowns.

This season, as the starting running back for part of the year and missing four games with an ankle injury, Thomas caught 22 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown.

Thomas said after returning from his ankle injury that he saw himself as a wide receiver in the NFL and indicated that he liked the position and wanted to play there more often to close the season.

He did just that but didn't prove to be as productive as he had been the previous two seasons.

Helping Thomas' stock as as small but ultra fast wide receiver is St. Louis' Rams rookie Tavon Austin, who is listed at 5-8, 176.

The Rams selected Austin with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2013 draft.  After a slow start to the season Austin caught 40 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns. He also had a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown.