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No doubting Thomas: UA receiver may top Pac-10 catches mark

UA receiver Mike Thomas dives for a touchdown against Toledo on Sept. 6. He caught nine passes for 138 yards in the game and 12 passes for 136 last week at New Mexico.

UA receiver Mike Thomas dives for a touchdown against Toledo on Sept. 6. He caught nine passes for 138 yards in the game and 12 passes for 136 last week at New Mexico.

Wide receiver Mike Thomas prefers fast-break football.

Thomas, third on Arizona’s all-time receptions list, is at his best when he gets the ball early in a game and takes off running.

It’s a style that works. Thomas is closing in on the Pacific-10 Conference all-time reception mark, needing 48 to pass Arizona State’s Derek Hagan.

“It’s a lot like in basketball. You have to get (Thomas) involved in some plays early and then he can make a lot of things happen with his great speed and quickness,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “He’s very explosive. He ought to show up all the time.”

The 5-foot-8, 195-pound senior wants the first pass thrown his way. Correction: “I want to be involved on every play if I can,” Thomas said.

A highlight reel could be made of Thomas’ end-around runs and TD catches since his freshman year, when he electrified UA fans with six scores.

If Thomas starts off fast, he usually finishes strong in a game.

“He’s a streaky player,” Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said. “(But) that goes with his consistency day in and day out . . . and realizing . . . you have to hang in there.”

By learning to handle double coverage, Thomas is Division I football’s No. 2 active receiver with 211 catches, 16 behind Rice’s Jarrett Dillard. Thomas needs to average five to six catches in UA’s final nine games to catch Hagan as the league’s career leader.

“He can catch eight to 10 balls a game,” Dykes said before the season. “One hundred catches: That’s what we are expecting out of him and a lot of big plays.

“He has to learn to make routine plays as much as the big plays. He is a big play waiting to happen. He is one of those guys where you throw him a 3-yard pass and he makes it a 50-yard touchdown. That’s critical for our offense.”

Need proof?

At New Mexico last week, Thomas caught a quick throw, skirted a pair of defenders and scored on a 43-yard play, running the final 5 yards backward after being grabbed from behind and turned around.

The TD came in the opening five minutes. Even though UA lost 36-28, Thomas did his best to help the Cats win.

Last year, Thomas tied UA’s single-season receiving TD record with 11. He trails “T” Bell’s career mark by nine and needs 644 yards to pass Bobby Wade’s career yardage mark.

Don’t ask him about the records. It is a waste of time.

“I really don’t care,” Thomas said. “I will look at (the records) after the season is over.”

Still . . .

“It would be great to have a chance to lead the Pac-10 (in career receptions),” Thomas said. “I don’t talk about it much, but if it comes, I would be more than happy to accept it. I would like to get that.”

The receiver from DeSoto (Texas) High School, a suburb of Dallas, has passed defensive backs throughout his career. He has passed expectations, too.

Recruiters considered Thomas a decent receiver with speed at DeSoto, but he caught just 15 balls in a run-oriented offense his senior year.

Last week alone, he caught 12 passes for 136 yards at New Mexico, and tied previous highs against Cal and USC last year.

“He’s probably one of the most explosive players I have seen in being able to catch a short pass and make a big play out of it,” Stoops said. “He also has great strength and balance. That’s what separates himself from a lot of people. You’re not going to knock him down. He’s so physical.”

Many colleges shied away from Thomas out of high school because of his 5-8 frame.

That just motivated him.

“I play with a chip on my shoulder all the time,” Thomas said. “I don’t feel there is enough respect going around.

“The height? It is what it is. I have God-given talent, and I’m going to capitalize on it.”

Just get him the ball early.



UA (2-1) at UCLA (1-1), noon, Saturday. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5 FM, Line: UA by 2.5



UA’s Mike Thomas is 48 catches from being the Pac-10′s top career receiver:


1. Derek Hagan, ASU, 2002-05 258

2. Troy Walters, Stan., 1996-99 248

3. Reg. Williams, Wash., 2001-03 243

4. Bobby Wade, UA, 1999-02 230

11. Mike Thomas, UA, 2005- 211



Single-season receiving TDs

Player Total Year

1. “T” Bell 11 1974

1. Mike Thomas 11 2007

Career TD receptions

Player Total Years

1. “T” Bell 30 1972-75

2. Dennis Northcutt 24 1996-99

3. Bobby Wade 23 1999-02

4. Mike Thomas 21 2005-08

Single-season receptions

Player Total Year

1. Bobby Wade 93 2002

2. Dennis Northcutt 88 1999

3. Mike Thomas 83 2007

Career receptions

Player Total Years

1. Bobby Wade 230 1999-02

2. Dennis Northcutt 223 1996-99

3. Mike Thomas 211 2005-

Single-season receiving yards

Player Total Year

1. Dennis Northcutt 1,422 1999

2. Bobby Wade 1,389 2002

3. Keith Hartwig 1,134 1976

4. Mike Thomas 1,038 2007

Career receiving yards

Player Total Years

1. Bobby Wade 3,351 1999-02

2. Dennis Northcutt 3,252 1996-99

3. Mike Thomas 2,708 2005-

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