Over the weekend, I found myself looking back at some of the best seasons from Oregon football quarterbacks over the past decade, or so, and I stumbled across a name that, honestly, I had almost forgotten.
In true Darron Thomas fashion, he flew under the radar in my mind, and looking at just how much he meant to this program in its successful seasons under Chip Kelly, he doesn’t get nearly as much praise as he should. To put it bluntly, no one gives Thomas the respect he deserves.
It was evident early on in his Oregon career that Thomas was going to be special. He entered a game as a freshman, facing a massive deficit against Boise State, but he nearly engineered a four-touchdown comeback, tossing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter before falling just short in 2008. He looked like the ideal Dennis Dixon successor, but Jeremiah Masoli started and Thomas redshirted in 2009.
Finally, in 2010 he was given a shot and didn’t disappoint.
Thomas finished his first full season as starting quarterback with 2,881 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine picks and a 62 percent completion rate. He also rushed for 486 yards and five touchdowns on 5.2 yards per touch. This was good enough production and leadership to lead the Ducks to a 12-1 record and a spot in the BCS National Championship.
Rebounding from a national title game loss would be tough, but Thomas was up for the task, passing for 2,761 yards and 33 touchdowns with only seven picks and a slightly better completion rate, a sliver over 62 percent. He rushed for another 206 yards and three scores.
Oregon finished the season 12-2, including the program’s first Rose Bowl victory in nearly 100 years. Not too shabby for a guy who still gets overlooked to this day.
How the heck do we continue to underrate Thomas?
In two years as starting quarterback, Thomas threw for over 5,500 yards and 63 touchdowns with just 16 interceptions and a 62 percent completion rate. He rushed for 692 more yards and five scores, leading the Ducks to a 24-3 record with its first Rose Bowl win since 1916.
Yet we continue to talk about guys like Dennis Dixon or Joey Harrington more than we bring Thomas’ name up.
Why is that?
It could have something to do with him leaving a year early and going undrafted. Sometimes players can have great collegiate careers but if they don’t amount to anything in the NFL, we can forget them or overlook them.
That seems to be the case with Thomas.
I think it’s time we change that, however. He helped put Oregon football on the national map with a national title game appearance and Rose Bowl victory which set up an impressive run of five straight seasons with 11-plus wins under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich.
Give Thomas some respect.