Deddrick Thomas will always have the distinction of being the first Mississippi State player to score a touchdown during the 2016 season.
The redshirt freshman wide receiver grabbed a 4-yard pass from Damian Williams during the opening quarter of the South Alabama game to account for the first Bulldog points of the year.
“When I first happened, I was like ‘dang’,” Thomas said. “I was just happy. A couple of moments later I thought ‘I just scored my first touchdown’ and was happy. But then (the outcome of) the game kind of messed up the moment.”
After the game, Thomas checked his phone to find that it was overrun with alerts from family, friends and fans about the scoring grab in his MSU debut.
“Facebook, Instagram and any other social media you can think of, my notifications were blowing up on my phone,” Thomas said. “It’s cool but I still don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet. I’m just staying focused and on track, trusting the process and believing. I don’t let any outside influences get to me.”
Thomas arrived in Starkville in January 2015 after graduating from Memphis Central High School in Tennessee a semester early. The 5-foot-9, 188-pounder worked for a year and a half before he was finally able to get his first opportunity and made the most of it.
“It feels great to be out on the field,” Thomas said. “It was a rush at first but it’s back to football now. I’ve been doing this since I was a little boy so I just approach it the same way.”
During his redshirt year, Thomas worked extensively with Bulldogs’ wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales to improve his game. Since Thomas was a high school quarterback, he basically started from scratch at the position.
“My technique is better and I’m smarter,” Thomas said. “My whole game, I’m able to use my advantages better. Coach G is a great coach, the best I’ve ever had. He’s taught me so much to enhance my game. Plus I get to watch great people like Fred Ross and Donald Gray and take some of their (games) and tweak it with mine.”
Thomas was a three-star recruit and received 15 offers during process including SEC programs such as Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee. He made a commitment to the Bulldogs eight months before he enrolled and has been thrilled ever since.
“It’s a blessing just to be here period,” Thomas said. “I’m going to take advantage of all of it. I feel like if I went anywhere else, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. The environment, the people, the coaches and all the things we’ve done have made me this Deddrick Thomas. I’m happy with my decision.”