|Fitting to Darren Thomas' personality, his accomplishments do the talking.|
Darren Thomas' decision to declare eligible for the NFL Draft shocked me when I first heard it. My initial thought like most was that he was not making the right decision. That thought lasted all of about five minutes after putting some more thought into it.
First thing to consider is Thomas would really gain nothing from coming back and would be risking injury where he plays in a system that has scene its fair share of QB's go down. Second is there are some really good QB's coming out next year and though RGIII and Andrew Luck are going this year the depth of this class is not like in years past. Another thought to consider is Chip Kelly always talks about how intelligent he is at his position and how much of a competitor he is. Really sit back and think about late in games that mattered...he delivered in the Championship game last year when he needed too, same thing against SC even though we lost both. He delivered in the Rose Bowl this year, and at Stanford too. I really can't remember him losing a game for Oregon with bad decision making or errant throws. I realize against SC he made several mistakes and if he led DAT on a late 4th quarter pass it would have been 6 but forget that, he still got the team in position to go to OT. I really can't remember a QB that was as clutch as DT since Harrington and its hard to say DT wasn't more productive. Two consecutive 12 win seasons, 12-1 as a first year starter, Rose Bowl Champions, led his team to the first ever NC game, and holds the record for most TD passes in a single season and career. Oregon finished #3 and #4 in the country with Thomas as the starter. Under Harrington Oregon finished #7 AP Poll 2000, and #2 in 2001 however did not make the BCS Championship game (not to say Oregon didn't deserve to be in the game).
If there was a knock on him it's that he lacks spectacular mechanics and went through spells of inaccuracy but overall he is very solid. He's not the runner that Masoli and Dixon were nor is he the passer that Harrington was but he also isn't the slowest guy on the field either. He extended plenty of plays when he needed too, and was always looking downfield first. I would say he was a better passer than Masoli, has just as strong of arm as Joey, and could extend plays like Dixon. I'm not saying he's better individually but his resume in my opinion is better than all three. The last thing to consider when comparing him top past Oregon greats, is his bad games were not that bad. I remember Harrington having 11 turnovers in the two losses in the 2000 season to Wisconsin and Oregon State. I don't remember Thomas having a game close to that bad. You could probably argue who was better all day as I am fond of both and my guess is you would be splitting hairs. Point is, if you are judging today Darron Thomas belongs in the conversation for Best QB's to ever play at Oregon!
One of the last things to consider is athletes need to look at their financial future and propensity to make money in a trade that is cut throat with a very short shelf life. Even if he goes to the CFL he will still get paid to play football, which is the ultimate for these athletes. He may only have a 3-7 year window to make money professionally so he should do it while his body is young and resilient. As fans I think we can be idealistic and want to believe that winning championships is #1 priority to college athletes. While this is true in many cases, there is a point where you have to think about whats best for you personally.
Darron Thomas did what he needed for the University and even more than was expected. He took Oregon to its first ever National Championship game in his first year as a starter, ended the 95 year Rose Bowl Champion drought, and broke records doing it. He accomplished just as much, if not more than any QB in his time at Oregon. No matter how you slice it, DT is among the best QB's to ever play at Oregon. Duck fans should be thankful for what he accomplished and support him in his decision, because it is exactly that...his decision!
If you want to read more...Shockingly this is the first time i actually agree with John Canzano...Ted Miller also offers some good insight.