This Eagle has some golden hands

Thomas has 30 catches and averages 17 yards per grab
By: Joshua Ansley, Gold Country News Service
-A +A
With Del Oro falling behind early in the first half Friday night against Nevada Union, wide receiver Daniel Thomas caught a 47-yard pass from quarterback Max Magleby and the Del Oro offense got the spark it needed going into the second half. Thomas did not score on the play. In fact, Del Oro did not score during that possession, but the big pass play continued the theme this season for the Eagle’s top receiver. Thomas has not only been the main target for quarterbacks Magleby and Bobby Heatherington, but has been the go-to-receiver in third down situations when the team is in dire need of some big yardage. At no more than 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, the smaller-than-usual receiver has found a way to deliver over and over again under immense pressure. Thomas has at least three catches in all but one game for the Eagles this season and has also caught at least one reception for over 30 yards in all but one game. He matched his 2009 total of 11 receptions in just his third game of the 2010 season, and then went on to shatter that mark with two straight games with six catches. He now has 30 receptions this season while averaging over 17 yards per catch. Thomas said his current success is due in part to the fearless attitude he has brought into this season. He added that some of the fears that he had last year playing as a sophomore alongside juniors and seniors no longer exist. “I have more confidence now,” he said. “I feel like last year I had to look over my shoulder the whole time and kind of tip-toe through everything. Now I have the ability to make the run after the catch and put a move on someone.” Thomas showed off those moves against Oak Ridge High on Sept. 17 when he hauled in six catches for 145 yards, including a 54-yarder, the longest of his career, along with two touchdowns. Although he has a good first step, Thomas admitted that there are guys faster than he is. So what is that has made this 5-10, 180-pound receiver so successful? Tyronne Gross, who works as a personal trainer for Thomas, said his ability to catch anything that comes his way is what makes him so dangerous for opposing defenses. “He has incredible hands, a quick release off the ball, and runs excellent routes,” Gross said. That says a lot coming from Gross, who played two seasons for the San Diego Chargers. Gross said he never has any problem motivating Thomas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “The only problem I have with him in a training session is telling him to slow down,” Gross added. “It if was up to him, we would have been training 24/7 in the off-season.” Gross also said that he is even more impressed by the kind of young man Thomas is beyond the gym and off the field, where he has spent a lot of time with the junior receiver. “He’s like a little brother to me,” Gross said. “We talk on the phone, go out to lunch, and I have had the chance to hang out with him and his family. He’s been a blessing in my life because of the way he lives. At such a young age he has his priorities in order with God, family, school, and football.” It’s evident that Thomas doesn’t suffer from the false modesty syndrome that many successful players live with. He points out what he is successful at with ease and honesty. It also carries over into him pointing out his failures without hesitation. Thomas said that his toughest moment playing football was in the Div. II Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game against Rocklin at U.C. Davis last season. Del Oro’s top receiver, Spencer Butterfield was hurt, and the team started looking to Thomas to produce. “I feel like I choked,” he said. “I was disappointed. I didn’t do what I wanted to do in that game.” Thomas said he has grown immensely since then, and feels prepared to take on any challenge now. “I think of myself as a really talented receiver, and I think I should have a really good year. I don’t really make a point of how many yards I should have or how many catches. But every time they throw me the ball, my goal is to catch it.” -------------------- THE DANIEL THOMAS FILE About No. 18: (Wore No. 3 during 2009 season, but switched to No. 18 for the 2010 season.) “I would like to give No. 18 a good tradition because Del Oro has never had a No. 18 at the varsity level. This is the first year they even ordered the jersey, so I’d like to give No. 18 a good name.” Favorite Season: Summer Favorite Music: Everything Favorite Movie: The book of Eli Favorite Athlete: Otis Amey Favorite Team: Chargers Hobbies: Playing Madden Siblings: 1 older sister –Alexa Nickname: DT Trivia: Played cornerback and wide receiver as a freshman for the Del Oro Frosh football team Favorite part of playing prep football: The feeling of the Friday night lights and playing in front of the crowd.