Recruit Focus: Taylor Thomas

All information in this post is courtesy of  BeaverBlitz and Hudl.  Again, I highly recommend both of these sites for the best and latest information on Beavers football recruiting.

All reviews are just MY OPINION, and need to be taken as such. The coaches know more than me, understand the team’s needs better than I do, and most likely differ with my opinions. I am just doing this for fun.

Taylor Thomas

CURRENT RIVALS RANKING: 3 Star (5.5)
PROJECTED FINAL RIVALS RANKING:
3 Star (5.6)
HT: 5′ 8″
WT: 180 pounds
40-Time: 4.48
POS: Running back
HOMETOWN: Jacksonville, FL
OTHER OFFERS: Boise State, Boston College, Indiana, Maryland. Memphis, Middle Tenn State, Troy, UCF, Utah, and Wake Forrest
CHANCE OF BEING A BEAVER: 99%

Hudl Profile – Private

Position The Official Candy Report sees this Player at: Running back
What Beaver this player reminds us of: JJ Young

STRENGTHS
– Fast. Fast. Fast.
– Great vision and explodes through the hole
– Constantly drives feet on contact, fights through tackles
– Runs so much stronger than you would expect from a 5’8″ speedster
– Great moves in traffic
– Follows blocks well
– Turns on a dime and sets up blocks with his moves.
– Constant motor and plays kind of mean
– Has a great stiff arm and uses it well to push himself in a new direction, away from tacklers.

QUESTIONS
– Not a lot of film of pass blocking
– Not a lot of receptions in highlights
– Does do a lot of dancing to get extra yards, which could hurt him at Division 1 level if he tries to dance too much behind the line.
– Played with an exceptional line (four Division 1 commitments, 1 Power-5 conference commitment)

SUMMARY:
When you think about great backs in the Pac-12, you think of a lot of great Beavers players such as Steven Jackson and Quizz Rodgers. You also have the freaks such as Reggie Bush and Ka’Deem Carey, or the slew of great runners out of the Eugene and Westwood. For me, the guy that Taylor Thomas reminds me most of is a guy that is suiting up this Sunday. He is a spitting image of Marshawn Lynch. The former Cal player runs with a style that looks like he is trying to shake his lags free of his body while also punching on a speed bag. Arms and legs flying everywhere, making him so hard to tackle. While Lynch is not known as a speedster, he is fast enough.

I see a lot of that in Thomas. He takes on tacklers, drags guys fights, claws for extra yards, and never seems to slow down until he is on the ground. There also is the instant commitment to a path and the ability to change directions quickly with either an amazing pause and go move or a stiff arm that just redirects Thomas as much as anything.

The differences are that I think Thomas has legit speed. He may not be Brandin Cooks (yet), but he is easily in the upper 4.4-second 40-yard dash range, and when you watch him run at 5’8,” he is rarely taking more than 2.5 steps per five yards. That is a good indicator of relative speed. He also plays in Florida in a solid league known for its speed, so many of those guys he is playing against are elite speedsters.

The other part of Thomas’ game that I really like is that he has very good vision, or at least appears to. If you look at how he sets up blocking, making a move to freeze the defender so that blockers can reach them or taking a path that looks a little weird because it sets up a great cutback opportunity. Thomas seems to be a pretty solid runner in all phases, in terms of making people miss, running through tackles, and breaking away for big gains. While sometimes I think he will get caught dancing a bit in the Pac-12, usually that happens in space, after already running for a sizable gain.

As a junior, Thomas averaged 13.2 yards per carry. That is a good indicator of someone that doesn’t take a lot of loss yardage and hits the hole hard. I also noted that his class of linemen is pretty dang good, with one commitment to Florida, and four others committed to Division 1 schools. So it is not like he had a shortage of holes to run through. While the competition he played against was stiff, his team was no slouch either.  With the new scheme at OSU, I can see him having the opportunity to be a huge asset for OSU, and I think the coaches will find ways to get him the ball where he can use his speed, elusiveness, power, and vision to help the Beavers score some points.

Silly Shot In The Dark Guess
My silly, shot-in-the dark guess is that when Taylor Thomas comes to Oregon State, he has the potential to be a 3-year starter at running back. A redshirt year will be very important to help him add a few pounds and work on his already impressive physical tools. While the Beavers have some talent at running back with Chris Brown, Storm Woods and Damian Haskins, that is not a super deep group, so his redshirt status might be in question — especially with Ryan Nall moving to H Back and Harris Ross not qualifying yet. After this year, you will have Brown, Haskins, and Thomas, so I think he will get quite a few reps at running back and if he is as fast and quick as he looks, he might move up the ladder for playing time quickly. Plus, one injury, and I am not even sure he redshirts.

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