Daniel Thomas, Doak Walker Award candidate. Daniel Thomas, unanimous preseason First Team All-Big 12 selection. Daniel Thomas, All-American candidate. Daniel Thomas ... don't rule out Heisman Trophy candidate.
To date, there is no official campaign for any of these 2010 postseason awards for Kansas State's No. 8, and that's by design.
"I've never been a big proponent of campaigns," said K-State football coach Bill Snyder. "I also don't want to do anything to distract from any of our players being recognized at the end of the season. But too many times bringing attention to one player is not what's best for the entire team."
Since Snyder's arrival at K-State, three players were in the mix for the Heisman Trophy strictly from their numbers produced on the turf. Chad May placed 11th in the Heisman voting in 1994, Michael Bishop second in 1998 and Darren Sproles fifth in 2003.
With Bishop, the Wildcat multi-talented quarterback wasn't even allowed to speak to the local or regional media until the 10th week of the season. With Sproles, it was more a case of the lightning quick running back simply didn't enjoy chatting with those with pen and microphone in hand.
K-State did design a Sproles' web site - www.darrensproles43.com - that launched prior to the start of his senior season in 2004, but it quickly became a season where the stars were not aligned. As a team, K-State went from an 11-win Big 12 championship season to one of 4-7. And, Sproles went from a record-setting 1,986-yard season to one of 1,318 yards.
Last year, Thomas rushed for 1,265 yards, which ranks fourth highest for a single season in Kansas State history, while his 247 attempts ranked second only to Sproles' 306 in 2003. Thomas also rushed for 11 touchdowns.
K-State has produced an e-mail template updating Thomas' numbers each week of the season that will go out to roughly 150 members of the regional and national media. That information will also be posted online through Kansas State's regular athletic department web site - www.kstatesports.com.
"We're cautious with what we do in publicizing one player, especially in the preseason, because Coach Snyder prefers the focus to remain on the team and its goals," said K-State Director of Athletic Communications/Sports Information Director Kenny Lannou. "Daniel is very worthy of recognition and we will make sure that the college football world is aware of his story and updated weekly regarding his production on the field, but we also want to keep in mind that there are other players just as capable and not put too much emphasis on one individual."
One who is fine with limited hype is Thomas himself.
"This time last year I was a nobody," said Thomas, a quarterback transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College and a product of Hilliard (Fla.) High School where he also played quarterback. "People didn't even know what position I was going to play. I had one goal and that was to rush for 1,000 yards. Leading the league never entered my mind.
"I guess I accomplished something last year, but that was just one year," said Thomas, who has set goals of 1,600 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns for 2010. "I have come a long way, but I have a long way to go."
A year ago during the season, Thomas had an early afternoon Tuesday class, which prevented him from attending the Wildcats' weekly 1 p.m. press conference. This year he will be available to the local cast of reporters, plus to receive calls from national writers.
Being modest is an understatement when it comes with Thomas, who is more than willing to let his statistics do his talking with the voters. He openly admits, "I don't mind talking with the media, but I don't enjoy talking about myself."
Appreciating that attitude is Coach Snyder.
"You appreciate the humility that Daniel has. It's a compliment to how he was raised by his parents. I would like to believe that he will retain that value this year with the media. Daniel has proven himself, but every season you see proven players go south with their careers."
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at email@example.com, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at firstname.lastname@example.org.