ANN ARBOR--Anthony Thomas knows a little bit about coming in as an heralded freshman recruit.
Thomas, was a highly decorated recruit out of Winnfield Senior (La.) High, where he set the state record with 105 rushing touchdowns during his stellar career and was named a high school All-American during his senior season. He would later sign with Michigan and go on to one of the greatest college careers in U-M football history.
“I had expectations,” said Thomas, on coming in as freshman. “I wanted to come in right away and try to help the team out and play as much as I could. So, that what the coaches were telling me when they were recruiting me. That’s one of things I tried to pride myself on. I worked myself in the summer, just to get myself in the best shape possible to be able to play.”
Known as the “A-Train” at Michigan, Thomas starred at running back for Wolverines’ from 1997-00. He helped lead the Maize and Blue to the 1997 national championship during his freshman season. He finished his Michigan career with 4,472 rushing yards, a school record at the time, and since passed by Mike Hart in 2006-07. He also owns the U-M record for career rushing touchdowns with 55.
Transition towards this upcoming Michigan season, and there is another highly touted running back who is set to take the field in Ann Arbor. His name—is Derrick Green, who is a five-star commit of out of Hermitage (Va.) High, and finished his career as the No. 1 RB in the final Scout.com player rankings.
Green has reached out to Thomas via Twitter, and the former U-M great has taken notice of Green’s accomplishments and thinks he can play as a freshman this season.
“I definitely think he can come in and contribute,” Thomas said. “He’s a nice size guy, nice speed, good hands. The only thing is, I don’t know the information he can retain. I mean, there is lot of information going in. He is coming in from a high school system to a college system. That’s the mostly, all the guys have problems with doing that. I think coach (Brady) Hoke will try to ease him in, and coach (Fred) Jackson will try to ease him in, like he did me. As much as you can, the more stuff you can retain, the more you play.”
While it wasn’t easy coming in as freshman and playing early, Thomas said the hardest part was adjusting from high school life to college life. But after that, he said the rest was history.
“Just looking at these guys,” Thomas said. “You get used to them cause you are working out with them in the summer. I mean you get to know these guys. When you start to out the pads on and things like that and that nature, I mean the speed is so much different. I mean everything is different from the college to high school. Once you get used to that, everything kind of gels together.”
What’s Thomas’ message to any incoming freshman that coming to Michigan?
“I just tell them like it is,” Thomas said. ‘Just come in and learn as much as they can. Try to come in the best shape as possible. I mean, the main thing is that play book right now. The more stuff they can retain. The more confidence the coach will have in putting you in the game. I can’t put a guy in there that don’t know the plays.”