2010's New Stars - Kansas St RB Daniel Thomas
Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas
Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas
Posted Mar 17, 2010

Who are the top players you need to know about going into 2010? Richard Cirminiello profiles Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas

Spring Preview 2010

The Players You Need To Know

Daniel Thomas, RB Kansas State

By Richard Cirminiello 

12 New Superstars You Must Know About
- Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
- Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
- Iowa S Tyler Sash 
- Houston WR James Cleveland
- Navy QB Ricky Dobbs
- Temple RB Bernard Pierce
- TCU LB Tank Carder
- California RB Shane Vereen
- Kentucky WR Randall Cobb
- North Texas RB Lance Dunbar
- Nevada DE Dontay Moch 

Who is Daniel Thomas? … Here we go again.

The university that's been so successful over the last two decades at mining the junior college ranks for premier talent has its next uber-transfer. With the return of Bill Snyder to the sidelines, Kansas State has once again opened the pipeline to the two-year schools that nourished the program throughout the 1990s. From the school that brought you QB Michael Bishop and most recently WR Brandon Banks, we now have RB Daniel Thomas, last year's improbable leading rusher in the Big 12.

To say that Thomas took a circuitous route to Manhattan would be a gross understatement. Okay, deep breath, everyone. The kid from Hilliard, Fla. grew up rooting for Miami, committed to Florida, played two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College, and spent last year at Butler Community College and Manhattan Christian College in order to meet academic requirements. And exhale. Oh, and not only did he pass through more registrars than the Secretary of Education, but he also didn't have a fixed position when he was finally cleared to matriculate at Kansas State.

In high school and junior college, Thomas was a multi-dimensional quarterback who'd leaned heavily on his powerful legs. Although Kansas State had an opening at the position following the departure of Josh Freeman, the staff envisioned a different future for its prized recruit. The Wildcats needed a feature back as well, and at 6-2 and 227 pounds, Thomas appeared capable of filling the opening. It didn't take long for him to build some distance on his backfield competition, becoming the first Wildcat since 1966 to rush for 100 yards in the first two games of his career. He'd go on to run for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns in an impressive All-Big 12 first team debut.

Snyder is back. You can tell from the climate around campus to the tone of the press conferences. His thumbprint is also beginning to show up all over the roster, with young recruits and talented JUCO transfers. Thomas, in some ways, represents a bridge to the past and a building block of the future. The Wildcats are going to ride him repeatedly in 2010, giving him a chance to audition for NFL scouts and help bring the program another step closer to prosperity.

Daniel Thomas' best game so far was … last November's 17-10 win over Kansas. Thomas had five 100-yard games on the ground last season, but none was bigger or better than the one versus the rival Jayhawks. The junior went for a career-high 185 yards and a score on 24 carries, becoming just the ninth Wildcat to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and sparking Kansas State's first win in this series since 2005.

Why should you care about Daniel Thomas? … Thomas has the potential to be to Kansas State what Shonn Greene was to Iowa in 2008. One of the main differences is that Thomas is back in college for a final year, while Greene parlayed his monster season into a quick exit to the NFL. Even after leading the Big 12 in rushing, he's still a well-kept secret on a national level. That won't last, however, especially since he's in a far better position for success in 2010 than when he arrived last summer without even a set position on the depth chart.

Positives about Daniel Thomas … Thomas is the type of feature back that every program covets. At 6-2 and 227 pounds, he has the size and the power of a traditional workhorse, yet is quick enough to snap off long runs and make people miss in the open field. He's particularly strong in the lower body, which allows him to bludgeon defenders as he drives for more yards, and has the balance to remain on his feet after contact.

Negatives about Daniel Thomas … A dual-threat quarterback in high school and junior college, he's only had one full season exclusively at running back, so there are plenty of nuances to be learned. Thomas was wise to return to Manhattan for another season rather than flirt with the idea of turning pro. He can use that time to work on the finer points of the position, such as pass protection, which hand to carry the ball in, improving his footwork, and becoming a better receiver out of the backfield.

A cool thing about Daniel Thomas you probably didn't know … Thomas can really cook, and not just in the slang variation of the word. The young man is very comfortable around the kitchen. He's especially skilled with seafood, like Alaskan salmon and crab cakes, bakes mouth-watering cookies, and is the resident breakfast chef when he's back home with his family in Florida. Away from the field, he's a peaceful, introspective student-athlete, who leads by example and won't shy away from assuming the mentor role to some of the younger kids in his community.

Career Statistics 2009: 247 carries for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns; 25 catches for 257 yards; 3-of-4 for 50 yards and a touchdown