The past two springs have been of utter importance for Deddrick Thomas.
Thomas graduated high school early and enrolled at Mississippi State in January 2015 in order to get a head start on his collegiate career.
Although the 5-foot-9, 184-pound wide receiver eventually redshirted his initial season, there were plenty of benefits in arriving early.
“I think it helped me physically and mentally,” Thomas said. “I got to sit back and watch Fred Ross, De’Runnya Wilson, Fred Brown and Donald Gray. I watched and learned from a different perspective about the game. It helped me be a student of the game and I learned to read defenses.”
When Thomas stepped on the field for his second spring, he felt like a completely different player. It showed in his statistics as well. During the Bulldogs’ three spring scrimmages, Thomas caught 14 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown playing mostly H-receiver.
“I feel more comfortable and know what I’m doing,” Thomas said. “At first I was a little timid because I was afraid I’d mess up. But now I know the plays at X, H and Z. It’s second nature to me. I’ve learned from the other guys and now it feels normal.”
There were plenty of opportunities for Thomas this spring as well. Brown was dismissed from the university in April and Ross and Gray were both sidelined with injuries. Ross was unavailable during spring after groin surgery and Gray missed a majority of the practices with a knee injury.
“I’m sorry some of the guys got hurt but it made me hurry up and mature,” Thomas said. “I had to grow up faster to fill in those shoes. It was just like a game situation if one of them went down, I’d have to step in. It helped me get ready for the season.”
Thomas was a three-star recruit out of Central High School in Memphis, Tennessee where he played a number of positions. He spent most of his time at quarterback as a senior completing 27 of 58 passes for 451 yards and five touchdowns and rushing 71 times for 621 yards and eight more scores.
He also caught five passes for 56 yards and two touchdowns, made one interception on defense and returned a kickoff 70-yards for a score.
His quickness at the prep level earned him the nickname “Sweet Feet” but found out that he would need more than just that to succeed in the Southeastern Conference.
“It’s all about speed here,” Thomas said. “Everyone is faster. Every now and then you might even catch a d-lineman running with the linebackers. Things are way faster and guys are stronger and bigger.”
Thomas received 14 scholarship offers as a recruit including SEC schools Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee but believes he made the right decision in choosing MSU.
“I don’t think if I went anywhere else I wouldn’t know the things I know now – on and off the field,” Thomas said. “I’m very happy with my choice.”