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February 3, 2011De'Anthony Thomas had a busy day Wednesday. Living in the gigantic media fishbowl that is Los Angeles, Thomas fielded over 100 phone calls leading up to his press conference. The event itself got moved the day of the announcement from the LA ESPN studios to Crenshaw High School. The time was changed from 5:00pm to 6:00pm. Either way, the Black Mamba was destined to be the last commitment of letter-of-intent day, 2011.
Of course the announcement did not happen at 6:00. Those of us patiently waiting for his words became decidedly less so by 6:45. The Eugene Register Guard's George Schroeder suggested that due to the length of the ceremony, Thomas had just used his redshirt year. Duck Sports Authority's A.J. Jacobson opined that somebody had faked an injury to slow down the pace of the proceedings.
But when De'Anthony Thomas walked up to the podium, he left little doubt the signal he was sending. He wore a Duck hat and an Oregon jacket. Having been committed for months to hometown USC, the announcement was a difficult and important one to Thomas. His voice quivered with emotion as he spoke.
"I see my teammates in here," Thomas began. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for their support. Back-to-back champs you know. I want these underclassmen to take it back one more year for me, keep it three-peat."
He then alluded to his hat and jacket. "You can see that I'll be going to the University of Oregon next year".
At that, the assembled crowd at Crenshaw High School erupted into extended cheers and applause. Watching Thomas you could see him visibly relax at the response from his family, friends and classmates. He took off his Duck jacket to reveal an Oregon 12-0 t-shirt, hugged his coach then went back to the podium and continued.
"It was a hard decision for me. I have got a lot of family members and teammates at the University of Southern California. I just take it as I feel comfortable in Eugene, Oregon. I'm going to be playing running back, it's a great offense for me, and hopefully I'll be successful and get my degree and get my education."
While Duck fans might have had to wait a long time for the announcement, De'Anthony Thomas did not disappoint, with one of the most surprising switches in recent recruiting history. Something that could be viewed as yet another indication of the shift in football power on the west coast.