ARLINGTON, Texas – Going into the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, Orlando Thomas (Copperas Cove, Texas) felt like he could see time at multiple positions. A true jack-of-all-trades at Copperas Cove, Thomas lined up at quarterback, running back, receiver and cornerback, in addition to punter and return specialist.
Thomas, a four-star athlete who is committed to Texas, was listed as a quarterback and cornerback on the bowl game roster. After Thursday, Thomas may have found his natural position in college. Ironically, it’s one of the positions he played least in high school.
Thomas was impressive on the defensive end, recording an interception and several solo tackles to help the West defeat the East, 21-14, at Cowboys Stadium. While Thomas also lined up sparingly at quarterback, it was his play at cornerback that seemed to turn heads the most.
“Texas told me I would play all different positions, just like in high school,” Thomas said. “The way things are going, it doesn’t matter where I play, as long as I’m playing.”
Standing 6-foot and weighing 175 pounds, Thomas’ build is better suited to be a big cornerback. His 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash allows him to be efficient with pass breakup opportunities. He showed his makeup speed on a couple of occasions to make defensive plays during the bowl game.
On the flip side, Thomas also has the intangibles of a classic, dual-threat quarterback. He has good field vision and is able to break down defenses well. Thomas is difficult to tackle on the first try because of his elusiveness, and he has great acceleration. He was Copperas Cove’s full-time quarterback who happened to also see time on defense.
“I feel like there really isn’t a particular position I feel I have to prove myself,” said Thomas, who was named the offensive MVP in his district. “Any position I do play, I play my best to excel.”
While Thomas admitted that he is most comfortable calling the plays, he’s not afraid of lining up on defense for the Longhorns to break plays up. He said the bowl game not only gave him added experience in the secondary but also confidence against athletes who will compete in the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and ACC next year.
“I usually play offense, but I definitely felt like this was big-time experience for me,” he said. “I got to meet some great players, and I played on a big stage. It was a lot of fun.”