The small but speedy sparkplug was all over the field for Crenshaw this season. He rushed for 1,299 yards and 18 touchdowns and picked off five passes on defense in leading Crenshaw (12-2) to its second straight city championship. Thomas has committed to USC.Read More Below
Like many Los Angeles natives, De'Anthony Thomas loves the spotlight. He plans to major in film at USC next fall and envisions an acting career in his future. He's flashy. He's a typical Hollywood kid.
That is, until he steps onto a football field -- when Thomas becomes legendary. His accomplishments earned him City Section Player of the Year honors, and his speed out of the backfield mesmerized spectators and college scouts alike. Trojans fans are trumpeting him as the next Reggie Bush.
"I just grind to be the best," he said. "I practice hard."
Thomas runs a 4.4 40 and a 20.61 200-meter dash -- the latter of which placed first at the City Section Track & Field Championships and was the fastest of any high school athlete in the nation. His dazzling speed compensates for his 5-foot-9 frame, making him nearly uncatchable in open space.
It's also prompted some astounding statistics. He exploded for 1,299 rushing yards, 359 receiving yards and 22 offensive touchdowns while leading Crenshaw to its second straight L.A. championship this season. He was outstanding in the secondary as well, compiling five interceptions, including two picks in a 45-7 triumph over Carson High in the final.
His quickness has attracted some A-list admirers. After dazzling in a 2005 Pop Warner game, opposing coach Snoop Dogg (who founded the Snoop Youth Football League in Southern Los Angeles) summoned the then-12-year-old to the sidelines. The rapper dubbed the elusive youngster The Black Mamba -- a nod to an eight-foot African snake known as the fastest in the world -- and the label stuck through the remainder of his prep career.
"Now I don't relate to him as Snoop Dogg," he said. "I relate to him as Coach Snoop."
Thomas' game-changing ability will work in tandem with speedy Trojan wideout Robert Woods and commit George Farmer next fall. With the addition of Thomas, USC could become a BCS contender again (the Trojans finished 8-5 this season).
The Black Mamba is thinking bigger. He's from Hollywood, after all, and his breathtaking play has analysts proclaiming him a once-in-a-generation talent. He's a unanimous five-star recruit. A good season simply won't be good enough.
If his statement to the local press after the championship was any indication, Thomas has a more storybook ending in mind.
"I'm trying to go for the Heisman," he said.