- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
"It's going to be a big stage for me," Thomas said. "Coming into that offense, and I'm coming to play running back. I just feel it's going to be a very good stage for me and I'm ready to get on the field.
"Chip Kelly, he's a great coach. First year he went to the Rose Bowl; second year, national championship.
"I just felt really comfortable up there. I loved it."
Thomas, ranked No. 16 in the ESPNU 150, is one of the most decorated prep players ever to come from Los Angeles. He had been considered one of the jewels of USC's class.
He had been committed to USC since last spring and only recently seemed to be wavering. Over the weekend, he took an official visit to Oregon and reports immediately began trickling out of Eugene that one of the top playmakers in the country might flip.
Thomas said he had always kept an eye on the Ducks, even as he was verbally committed to USC. He was drawn to Oregon's fast-paced offense and felt it fit his skill set better than USC's pro-style attack. Also, the Trojans had initially recruited him as a cornerback and Thomas preferred to remain as a running back.
"[USC coach Lane Kiffin] never gave up," Thomas said. "I was talking to him all day about my decision.
"Coach Kiffin is a great coach. I would've loved to play for him, but I just felt comfortable at the University of Oregon."
Thomas, known locally as "The Black Mamba," rushed for 1,306 yards, caught 16 passes for 349 yards and scored 27 touchdowns as a senior. He was the Los Angeles City Section Player of the Year as Crenshaw won its second straight title.
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
11hEric D. Williams