Most OSU fans knew Devon Thomas was a highly-rated running back recruit and he flipped his commitment from the Sooners to the Cowboys.
We assumed he’d provide depth to our traditionally strong running back position. Our knowledge of recruits typically stops with their recruiting profile, but football is an afterthought with this situation. Corey Jones and Kelly Hines with the Tulsa World updated the story with somber details of the Thomas family history.
Some people are dealt a more difficult hand in life and Thomas wasn’t set up for success. His older brother is currently in jail and, as the article explains, the parental figures in his life aren’t serving as role models either. This still falls on Thomas. He knows right from wrong. He knows the law. He made these poor decisions.
My first reaction was “Pull his scholarship!” but football is irrelevant in this situation. There are no indications the police have the wrong guy so Thomas isn’t playing college football. He’ll be doing time like his brother. It’s saddening.
Forget about losing a running back. A young man is lost right now.
Let’s jump back to the infamous SI report from last year. I had as many arguments with the report as you, but it’s fair to have questions when you combine this incident with the accusations heard around the country. I’m not accusing the football staff of any wrongdoing, but I’m curious:
“Did the coaches have any clue about Thomas’ character?”
“If so (surely they had to), what kind of attention and support did they provide him?”
“Was OSU focused on redirecting him for success in life or was it more about first down and TDs?”
“Did they even have a plan specifically for him once he arrived in Stillwater?”
For the most part, I trust the coaching staff and I’m well aware this is not their fault. All fans who invest time or money in a college athletics program should have similar questions.
Thomas will, and should, suffer consequences for his actions, but I believe in grace for everyone. Thomas created a difficult road forward, but I hope he eventually turns his life around (even if it’s in prison) to create a story that will change the lives of others for the better.