Every now and then at football practice you run across a visiting writer working on something special, not daily beat coverage.
Monday I met Jerry Briggs of the San Antonio Express-News, who is in Oxford working on a feature on Devin Thomas.
I raised an eyebrow at that. At a time when many newspapers are cutting back, it speaks well of Thomas that his hometown paper would spend the money to travel this far to update a former high school star.
That tells you a little bit about Thomas on the field but off the field as well. He was obviously a big name as a high school athlete in San Antonio. A geology major, Thomas has made various honor rolls since arriving at Ole Miss and was honored by the SEC for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
Academics are one reason Thomas has remained at Ole Miss, Briggs said. Former Ole Miss player Lekenwic Haynes will likely start for former Miami coach Larry Coker at Texas-San Antonio this year. He told Briggs he didn't try to recruit Thomas to transfer with him and went on to comment that Thomas was “always studying.”
There were four running backs in Nutt's first class at Ole Miss, three of them Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis and Thomas.
Thomas was a speed back and was rated the No. 1 prospect in South Texas coming out of high school. He broke his ankle his senior year of high school, was passed by Bolden and Davis at Ole Miss and never really caught up.
Thomas punctuated a solid spring with 92 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Grove Bowl. Nutt said there would be “a role” for him this season, but it's hard to imagine a meaningful role for the fourth back. Bolden and Davis are ahead of Thomas, as is speedy sophomore Jeff Scott.
Bolden and Davis will be gone after this season. Nutt is working hard to recruit running backs, but Devin Thomas, could have one more chance, in 2012, to be a starting SEC tailback.