Spartans' Thomas to skip senior year for NFL

Updated: January 5, 2008, 10:00 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Michigan State junior wide receiver Devin Thomas, who ranked among the NCAA leaders in four major receiving and kickoff return categories for 2007, will forego his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2008 NFL draft.

Thomas, who has already filed the necessary paperwork with the league office, is expected to be selected in the first or second round, according to a source. He likely will make a formal announcement next week.

"It's a done deal," his father, Dwight Thomas, said Saturday night in an interview with The Associated Press. "Coming off the season he had and looking at the senior corps of receivers, we felt like it was a prime opportunity for him to enter the NFL."

Only a one-year starter for the Spartans, Thomas had a breakout season in 2007, smashing the school's single-season record for all-purpose yards, set by tailback Lorenzo White in 1985.

"Devin is coming off an outstanding season and will be a key in this year's receivers class," Dwight Thomas said. "He's big, he's strong, he's physical and he's ready for the NFL. He's a hard worker and competitor."

In 13 games, Thomas registered 79 receptions for 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns, leading Michigan State in all of those categories. He returned 39 kickoffs for 1,135 yards, a 29.1-yard average. Thomas also had 27 carries for 177 yards and seven punt returns for 18 yards. For the season, Thomas totaled 2,590 all-purpose yards.

He ranked in the top 20 nationally in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards and kickoff return yards.

Thomas, 21, is listed at 6-feet-2, 218 pounds, and two league scouts contacted on Friday night said those physical dimensions seem accurate. One scout assessed Thomas' speed as "very good," and noted that, while there is always more work to be done in assessing underclass prospects, league talent evaluators are aware of the Michigan State star's NFL potential.

Drew Thomas, who said his son signed with agent Drew Rosenhaus, said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was disappointed when informed of the decision.

"He tried to point out some reasons why he should stay for his senior year," Dwight Thomas said. "I have a lot of respect for the man and appreciate what he's done for my son, but we just felt like this was the time for him to play in the NFL."

Until Thomas is formally accepted into the draft, league scouts are precluded from offering for-the-record analysis of his skills.

Thomas began his college career at Coffeyville (Kans.) Community College in 2005 and, after being ranked as one of the top 20 junior college wide receivers, transferred to Michigan State in 2006. In his first season with the Spartans, he had six receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. ESPN's Joe Schad covers college football for ESPN and contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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