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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Known quantity: KSU’s Thomas won’t sneak up on anybody

Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas answers questions during a news conference at the Big 12 Football media days on Tuesday in Irving, Texas.

Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas answers questions during a news conference at the Big 12 Football media days on Tuesday in Irving, Texas.

July 28, 2010

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— Last year, at this time, Daniel Thomas was just another name.

K-State, Mizzou take stage at Media Days

Some of KU's biggest football rivals took the stage during day 2 of the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday. Kansas will makes its appearance on Wednesday. Enlarge video

Sure, he arrived at Kansas State as a junior-college All-American and, yes, he was one of the most highly recruited dual-threat quarterbacks out of Northwest Mississippi Community College, but, still, he was just another name.

Then came the shift to running back at K-State, the 1,200-yard season, the 11 touchdowns, the punishing rushing style, and everything changed.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder articulates a point Tuesday at Big 12 Football media days.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder articulates a point Tuesday at Big 12 Football media days.

Now, instead of being just another player chosen to endure the barrage of media madness at Big 12 media days near Dallas, Thomas is widely regarded as one of the league’s best backs, and his name, even when just posted on a placard on a wall behind an empty chair, draws a lot of attention.

“Arriving as late as he did and then switching positions and having the success that he had, that’s unparalleled,” Kansas State junior Tysyn Hartman said Tuesday. “It’s going to be hard to find a story like his this year.”

Unless, of course, that story is written by Thomas himself.

Selected as one of two running backs on the All-Big 12 preseason squad — Oklahoma’s DeMarco Murray was the other — Thomas enters 2010 with high hopes. The outside world has placed even bigger expectations on him.

No worries.

“I think I can have an even better season than last year,” he said. “I’ve been working out more. That alone should help me be better prepared.”

Of course, having gone through a season like 2009 can only help, too.

“It was unexpected,” Thomas said. “Coming in not being very well known and going on and having success … it was a roller coaster, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It was what I was waiting on, you know.”

Thomas says he remembers the moment when KSU coach Bill Snyder approached him about switching to running back.

“I was all for it,” he said. “Just the physical nature of playing running back. I like getting the contact.”

That was no problem. Thomas was K-State’s workhorse in 2009, carrying the ball an average of 21 times per game. He ran for career highs of 27 carries (vs. Louisiana), 185 yards (vs. Kansas) and four touchdowns (vs. Texas A&M), all while facing opponents who knew he would get the ball.

His on-the-field ability is only a small part of his charm, though. Thomas is an engaging young man, who is unfailingly polite and more comfortable when surrounded by smaller crowds. The son of minister parents, Thomas used his faith to push through academic struggles, the position change and adjusting to life in Manhattan, a long way from his hometown of Hilliard, Fla. Asked how he was able to overcome it all, Thomas credited his parents and Snyder.

Snyder deflected the credit back to Thomas.

“Daniel is a very pleasant young person and very team-oriented, and he’s very easy to communicate with,” Snyder said. “And he gets along with everyone. He was so well received when he came to Kansas State, to Manhattan, Kan., received well by his teammates, received well by the people that surround him, support staff and coaches. So I think if there were any transition problems, they were very minimal.”

If anything, the biggest adjustment came from living life in the “big city.”

“It is a big city. It definitely is,” Thomas said. “The biggest store we have in my town is the Winn-Dixie. And my auntie’s restaurant.”

That restaurant, Little Al’s, serves the kind of food Thomas grew up on.

“Soul food,” he said. “I usually eat the buffet, chicken, macaroni, stuff like that.”

As for his preferred choice of chow in The Little Apple, which has about 50,000 more people and quite a few more restaurants than Hilliard, Fla., Thomas was all about the chains.

“I eat a lot of Subway, Chipotle, stuff like that,” he said.

If five-dollar footlongs and chicken burritos led to 1,200 yards and 11 TDs in 2009, expect Thomas to stuff himself the same way in 2010.

“The main thing is, don’t change anything, don’t change who you are,” Thomas said. “Just stay humble and do the best you can do.”

Comments

emaw 4 years, 5 months ago

Can't wait to see him run all over the hawks!!! GO STATE!!!

countrygirl 4 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like a nice kid. Nice change from some of the thugs we hear about.

BigAl 4 years, 5 months ago

"You are idiot"......

speaking of idiots.

riverdrifter 4 years, 5 months ago

KU could've been gone to the Pac 10 and KSU would be begging to get into the Mountain West right now as a result. Count your blessings. BTW, you hate basketball almost as much as soccer and are a K-Stater?! Talk about a one-trick pony. You must be stump broke.

Confrontation 4 years, 5 months ago

Some of the most dull and boring people I've ever met have been K-State fans. Actually, all the most dull and boring people I've ever met have been K-State fans. Thanks for helping to prove this stereotype. I'm just stating my opinion on having K-State junk in a Lawrence paper. Every Man A Wimp and Countrygirl stated their opinions, too.

Jim Williamson 4 years, 5 months ago

He's a good football player and, by all indications, a solid kid. Good on him!

emaw 4 years, 5 months ago

When do the KU football players get on campus? I can't wait to hear about the fights and armed robberies these guys will bring with them! lol

Confrontation 4 years, 5 months ago

Probably just as many fights and armed robberies as those that are caused by K-State players.

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