Football: Thomas’ All-American status nears unanimity
His status is almost unanimous.
Fresno State senior safety Phillip Thomas has been selected to All-America first teams from four out of five organizations that are used to determine whether a player is considered to be a unanimous All-American.
The Associated Press, The American Football Coaches Association, Sporting News and Walter Camp Football Foundation have all named Thomas to their respective All-America first-teams.
If the Football Writers Association of America gives Thomas first-team All-America honors when it releases its selections on Friday, Thomas will become the first unanimous All-American in Fresno State school history.
Thomas finished the season with a team-high 82 tackles and a nation-best eight interceptions in an effort that helped the Bulldogs win a share of the Mountain West Conference championship.
Thomas returned three of his eight interceptions for touchdowns and had four sacks and four forced fumbles in the Bulldogs’ defensive overhaul.
“He’s extremely well deserving of all these accolades,” Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter said.
“The forced fumbles and the sacks really, really led the resurgence of our defense, and obviously had a huge factor on our entire season.”
ESPN.com and Sports Ilustrated also named Thomas to their All-America first teams.Thomas was the only SI first-team selection on offense or defense from a school outside of the Bowl Championship Series conferences.
Thomas was also presented with the 2012 College Football Performance Awards Defensive Back Trophy during halftime of the Wednesday night’s men’s basketball against Colorado.
DeRuyter accepted the award on his behalf.
“He greatly appreciates this honor,” DeRuyter said. “He’d be here to accept it in person except that he’s in class right now. As a true student-athlete, he’s got to get that done first.”
Thomas was part of a 3-4 defense tasked with switching schemes after finishing the previous season forcing only nine turnovers in a 4-3 base formation.
This year, en route to a 9-3 Mountain West championship season, the Bulldogs have forced 33 turnovers.
“I didn’t want to put this label on him when I first got here, but I thought he could be Troy Polamalu-like in this package,” DeRuyter said.
“I really think he proved that. He was a difference-maker the entire year. To be named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Thorpe finalist, as well as this I think he very much fit up to the billing.”
Derek Carr and Davante Adams were also named to the SI All-America teams as honorable mentions.
The Bulldogs swept the Mountain West Conference’s player of the year awards – with Carr earning Offensive Player of the Year honors and Adams named as the league’s Freshman of the Year.
Fresno State (9-3) will play SMU (6-6) on Christmas Eve in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The game will be nationally broadcast by ESPN with a 5 p.m. kickoff.
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