So how do you rest up when you’re one of the most elite NCAA football players in the country? You join the one of the best track teams in the country, win some races, and then coach a local basketball team. Well, that is if you’re De’Anthony Thomas of course.
I had a chance to catch up with DAT following yesterday’s Spring Practice and if I wasn’t impressed enough with him before, I am now. I figured since the players just returned from Spring Break, I’d ask about DAT’s off-the-field R&R. In hindsight, my “did you get a chance to rest at all during the break” question seems a little silly. It did however give me a glimpse into his hard-work ethic and involvement in the community.
I obviously knew De’Anthony, along with several other players, were spending some time on the Track, but I certainly thought I’d get at least a “hanging out with friends”, or “visiting family” response from a 20 year old college student. Instead, De’Anthony replied, “A little bit, yeah I got a little rest, just out here in Eugene, working…I coached a basketball team, so that was pretty cool.” (No De’Anthony, I asked about REST!) Of course De’Anthony did add that he likes to go fishing, and had found some more fishing spots, after his spot behind Kowloon’s was crowded out (presumably following his Sports Illustrated interview last year). Phew, maybe he is human after all.
As a side note, It’s become obvious this week that any attempt to gain insight into what’s going on in practice is futile. These guys are clearly well-versed in how to respond to any questions about the X’s and O’s, and although I tried to throw in a couple, I gather it’s best to keep things light and semi-personal. Basically, you could sum up their responses in just a few statements:
1. The “vibe” is a little different under Coach Helfrich, but otherwise it’s business as usual.
2. The players are getting used to wearing their pads again, and each have areas they want to improve upon as they “compete” for their positions.
3. Assessing how many hits DAT can take, given his smaller stature, is an on-going focus.
4. Mariota’s shoulder is just fine.
5. Tempo is still a focus and the players feel they are trying to go “even faster”.
Thinking I was a bit savvy, I did ask De’Anthony if he’s playing a role in helping develop some of the younger receivers (given his success when playing this position at times). I figured this might give us a sense of how much attention’s being given to the passing game, or how much he might play at receiver. No luck. Unfortunately for us, he answered like a pro, giving a generic answer about how the older guys are always trying to help out the younger ones and adding, “We just just try to take care of what we gotta do and get better at it”.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but I tried again, asking about how much interest he’s had in playing defense at a college level (I, along with many, have been interested in seeing him play in the secondary). Again, he answered like a pro, telling me he basically enjoys both sides of the game and enjoys “…watching what those guys do”. OK DAT, lesson learned. I’ll stick to what all those girls really want to know anyway- more about you as a person.
To tie things up, I asked De’Anthony about how he manages to stay grounded given all the media pressure and celebrity that has followed him. His response wasn’t exactly what I expected, but was seemingly honest nonetheless.”It’s not really pressure, you know I just feel like I was prepared for all this and I don’t let any of this stuff get to me and I just handle it how I’m supposed to”.
Good answer De’Anthony, Good Answer. I think I speak for all Duck Football fans out there though when I say, please rest up and get some fishing in- when you’re not at the “Mo” Center, Hayward Field, or shooting hoops with kids, that is.