Editor's Note: Very few times does a player with the talents of Daniel Thomas come through the Wildcat Nation. "K-State Sports Extra" thought you'd enjoy meeting Mr. Thomas ... the person. We'll continue to introduce K-State's No. 8 to you with a five-part feature this week: The son of a preacher; A lapse in faith and focus; Becoming a Wildcat; Returning as a Wildcat; and Mr. Humble.
The son of Southern Baptist ministers Jerald and Louella Thomas, K-State's "DT" leads his total life through this scripture: "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." -- Colossians 3:23
By Mark Janssen
Daniel Thomas was a quarterback at Hilliard High and again at Northwest Mississippi Community College, before initially working out as a wide receiver at K-State. Eventually, he found his home at running back once the season started.
"I missed being 'the guy' at first because the quarterback is 'the man' of the offense. (Pause) But he's also 'the man' when you lose," Thomas said with a chuckle. "I only threw it about 10 times a game, but I missed throwing the deep ball. Usually, it was just drop back, wait two or three seconds, and take off and run."
Thomas debuted as a Wildcat with a 104-yard game against UMass, and he never lost stride. He rushed for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the Big 12 Conference in yards, attempts and yards per game. His 247 attempts were second in Kansas State history and his 1,265 yards ranked fourth.
Five times Thomas went over 100 yards with a season-high of 185 yards against Kansas. In four other games, K-State's No. 8 rushed for at least 88 yards.
Thomas' parents, Jerald and Louella, saw only the Iowa State game in person, but watched the Wildcats at every opportunity on television.
Referring to the Kansas game, but adding it happened frequently, Reverend Thomas said, "His momma was dancing on the bed and we had chips and dips all over the place. We were something to behold."
The numbers helped Thomas earn Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors, plus he was decorated as a First Team All-Big 12 talent.
To the 2009 awards, Thomas humbly says, "It was exciting because a year ago today I was a nobody. I've come a long way, but I have a long way to go."
Thomas, who has goals of 1,600 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns this year, played last year at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, but has upped his weight to 232 this season.
His 40 speed? Laughing Thomas said, "No, sir, I'm not the fastest. Maybe a 4.5, at best. That's one knock on me. Those 4.43s you heard about before ... those were from one of those juco clocks."
What numbers that are real are his ability to bench press 225 pounds 21 times, plus he owns a 38-inch vertical jump.
Through a summer of running with a weighted vest and running with the resistance of a parachute, he hopes to be an even stronger runner this fall.
Thomas, a Doak Walker and Maxwell Award candidate, has the reputation of a "one-cut" back. It's a label that he says, "I heard that, but I don't know if it's good or bad. I guess it means I make one cut and go."
A year ago, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Dana Dimel said, "Daniel came in and didn't know the system and didn't know much about being a running back. He just knew how to run the ball. It was amazing what he did without knowledge of the position. What really amazed me was how tough he is."
Thomas admits, "Last year I was just running wild."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.