Thomas turning small stature into big advantage

04/28/02 Kearnet Cyberhub
KEARNEY — Tri-City Diesel wide receiver Tyrone Thomas is proving that size doesn't matter in the National Indoor Football League.

Thomas — who is generously listed at 5-foot-8 and 170-pounds in the Tri-City program — is a diminutive player who is producing demonstrative results. The Black Hills State product has snagged 20 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns this season, including a 41-yard strike from quarterback Justin Coleman.

The Diesel (2-3, 1-1) will need more of the same from Thomas to keep up with unbeaten Sioux City on Sunday. The divisional showdown is slated to kick-off at 7:05 p.m. at the Tri-City Arena.

"I think we'll come out and play well against Sioux City," Thomas a native of Hyrum, Utah, said.

"Little mistakes have been killing us, but I think we are starting to put it together."

With the Bandits (5-0) coming to town, there is no time like the present to "put it together" according to Tri-City coach Leland Skeen.

"You can put it in big, bold print — we gotta have this game," Skeen said. "We need it to keep pace in the division. … It's a big one."

And although Thomas can't be considered a "big one", Skeen said the second-year receiver has played a major role in replacing Trevor Weston in the Diesel's passing schemes.

"He is not very big, but he has great hands," Skeen said. "He runs good patterns and he knows how to get open.

"The only trouble he has is getting the quarterback to see him. He has to find a window where he can see the quarterback and the quarterback can see him."

However, the size problem has become smaller since the Diesel signed former University of Nebraska at Kearney quarterback Justin Coleman.

At 6-foot-5, Coleman has the height and vision to see over the Diesel's towering offensive lineman.

"He puts the ball right where it needs to be," Thomas said. "It's almost ridiculous. He's the best we've had since I've been here. He sticks it right in the hole. … I don't know how he does it."

Thomas has caught passes from every quarterback the Diesel has every had, including Royce Mitchell, Adam Lane, C.J. Teply, Jay Cross, Tavares Thompson, and Coleman.

Thomas' skills have served each of the quarterbacks well.

"I'm quicker and lower to the ground than a lot of receivers," he said. "I can sit between defenders and find pockets in the defense. I'm good at reading zones and coverages."

Thomas was originally spotted by the Tri-City staff at a Lincoln Lighting tryout two years ago and has been with the Diesel ever since. He said his receivers coach at Black Hills State urged him to drive to Lincoln for the tryout.

When not dodging defenders at the Tri-City Arena, Thomas said he enjoys hunting, fishing, and working out.

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