Your 2012 Childress-Washington Spring Award Goes to...

By Chad Peltier on April 25, 2012 at 4:00p
That's "Mr. April" to you, sir. Proving he's more than just Mr. April

Though I'll normally be spending a good amount of time wrestling with numbers, I first wanted to address a question that has too small of a sample size for us to run any statistical tests: Mr. Michael Thomas's 12 receptions in the 2012 spring game. 

Based on the poll results, you, the 11W commentariat, have anointed true frosh Michael Thomas as this year’s “Mr. April.” At last count, Thomas led the way with 70% of the vote. Maybe because past spring stars never actually pulled into station aboard their hype trains during the regular season, many are downright skeptics of good spring performances.

The question of whether Michael Thomas will just be another Taurian Washington has already been the subject of extensive debate in several comment threads. T. Wash, like Bam Childress before him, became famous for posting insane spring game numbers, but receding to third or fourth string once the real season rolled around. It’s certainly fair to doubt whether we can glean any truly valuable information from a spring game performance. Is it really a coincidence that three wide receivers (Bam, Taurian, and now Michael) have dominated a spring game?

As spring game cynics will often repeat, it’s often little more than a glorified scrimmage in which walk-ons and depth chart bottom-feeders get significant playing time. Further, it’s more difficult to evaluate players in the spring when a strength on one side of the ball means that there is a weakness on the other side. As fans, we want all our players to look good - if the DL consistently gets into the backfield, is the DL really that dominant or the OL simply hungover from too much of the Walrus's coaching? Likewise, if T. Wash scores on a bomb in the spring game, is it because he’s great or the secondary has issues?

Regardless, I argue that the hype for Michael Thomas is warranted. 

First, the nature of the performances is different. Taurian Washington became Mr. April based upon big-play long bombs and jump balls, rather than Michael Thomas’s consistent first down pick ups. In the 2008 game, T. Wash led the Gray squad with 71 yards, and then led both squads with 92 yards in 2009. However, these 163 total yards came upon only eight catches - an average of approximately 20 yards per play. The majority of his yards came upon a 51 yarder in 2008 and then another 40 yarder in 2009, and that’s not to mention the 63 yard strike from Bauserman in 2008 that was called back because of a holding call. In his one spring performance, Thomas caught 12 balls for 131 yards, which equates to 10.9 yards per play.

“Wait,” you might be thinking, “why is Chad doubting a receiver who could produce big plays? Isn’t that what Urban has been looking for?” While that’s a fair point, what he wants more than all is simply a receiver who can consistently catch the football. And that is what Michael Thomas brings to the table. While we would have loved to have seen Thomas break a few of those tackles for huge gains, after last year I think we can all simply appreciate a receiver who simply gets open and then catches the ball. I’m impressed by Thomas’s ability to accumulate 130 yards not because of a 70 yard big play, but through multiple catches and first downs.

Forced us to rename the Bam Childress Spring Award in his honorT. Wash himself. 

Second, the format and competitiveness of the spring game are different under Urban’s regime. Urban emphasis on the first and second strings was apparent throughout spring practice, with Cardale Jones not even getting a single snap in the game. Michael Thomas was paired with the absolute number one corner on the roster in Roby all day (with Corey Brown and OJ at safety) and still managed to secure 12 passes. 

Finally, Thomas is only a freshman and is clearly developing a strong rapport with Braxton. In previous years, T. Wash scored on Bauserbombs in spring games, only to have Pryor for the actual season. The fact that Thomas is practicing each day with Braxton will go a long way in terms of developing their chemistry and timing for the regular season.

Cooper always used to say that “If a dog is going to bite, it will bite as a pup!” Some even used this quote as evidence that T. Wash would make a splash after he recorded a touchdown in his very first game as a freshman. Yet he would sadly end the year with only three receptions in the books. While it is certainly too early to tell whether or not Thomas will merely hold the most recent “Mr. April” crown and nothing more, the fact that his performance was consistent, against quality competition, and that he still has ample time to develop his chemistry with Braxton should leave us optimistic that he will be a reliable playmaker this fall.


Comments Show All Comments

BuiltfortheNuthouse's picture

But right now the rosters were drafted not 1 offense vs. 2 defense .

" I went for two cause I couldn't go for three." 
-woody Hayes 

Jason Priestas's picture

That's a great point. I did see Roby on Thomas a lot, however.

Chad Peltier's picture

Yeah that's a good point for sure. The most impressive thing for me was that Thomas was against Roby most of the day - even if the entire 1st D wasn't out there, I was impressed that he did as well as he did against Roby. 

hodge's picture

It's worth noting that the two were also on the same Army/UA All-American team (can't remember which), and started developing that aforementioned rapport then.

Alex's picture

UA Game, but honestly one week of practice in January of 2011 didn't do's more so Miller having thrown to Thomas this whole winter/spring and trusting him after he proved he could:

a) get open

b) catch the football

Unfortunately many of our receivers haven't proven they can do one of those things, let alone both

hodge's picture

Touche, I suppose it might have been more beneficial towards getting him to commit in the first place.  Did he go to Fork Union because of grades?

Alex's picture

there were a couple factors including the death of his grandmother in the spring before he chose a school, etc etc.....but yes, I think getting him from prep school to choose OSU had A LOT to do with his knowing Braxton, Shazier, Doran Grant

Squirrel Master's picture

I agree with this post. Thomas's performance is very different than those of the past Spring Games. I am not saying he will bust out and be the #1 WR this year but he will not become a permanent "Mr. April" like TW did. He would make an excellent 3rd down slot receiver this year opposite Stoney in a traditional offense. Not sure were he would lineup in the Urban spread. If memory is accurate, he was the inside receiver who blocks for the bubble or releases to the outside correct?

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I like this post and was wondering to myself as Thomas was racking up all his catches, if he was another Spring-only phenom. To me, for all the reasons you gave, I do think Michael Thomas will be more than just Mr. April for us. 

I just wonder what we would've seen had Jordan Hall been playing and had Devin Smith been on the Scarlet team. If Braxton had Smith on his team would Smith have had an outing similar to what Thomas'? 

I do know that I am looking for the receiving corp and the passing game to be much improved come fall. 

UFest57's picture

Who do I-Syp packing in a fat lipper in that title picture background? haha, love it.

dubjayfootball90's picture

^^ nice catch, that is hilarious. Kind of sucks for me though as I am going on one-and-a-half weeks off of chew. Now I am kind of fiending for it

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

DallasTheologian's picture

Awesome, I proposed this name in the chat. Did I steal it from someone? Hope not.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Thomas was making a little noise in Spring practices before the game.  I think he'll help the other WRs raise their level of play (along with Braxton per coaches requests).  The WRs will look a lot different come the season after getting more time working together in this new offense.  Thomas will not just be a spring game award winner that's for sure.  12 catches in one game where our leading WR last year had 14...that speaks volumes itself;-)

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

buckz4evr's picture

Didn't he room with Cardale?  I thought I read Cardale was in his ear the whole year.  I give him more credit then anyone else.  That's why I feel so bad for Jones, although I still think he has a promising future

BenArazi4's picture



I feel like Washington (and Bam too) showed their potential and Tressel should have acknowledged that and made an enormous effort to get them going, even if they were in a slump.  Positive reinforcement is what he shouldve used, because it was confidence they lacked and game experience they lacked, instead they were benched and had their confidence destroyed.  Look where Bam went, the NFL, I think that's one of Tressel's many mistakes, he didn't play his best players, he played his favorites.  Don't like Tressel, never will, Urban will definitely handle this situation different if Thomas gets into a slump.




EastSide's picture

This kid has a really great work ethic, similar to TO. Love or hate TO, you can't deny his football greatness. Thomas wants to be big in everyway and is willing to put in the work and it showed early. He has the pedigree for greatness being Keyshawns cousin and there is no reason why he can't continue what he did in the spring. Comparing him to Chilldress and Washingington in early success is fair but I can't not see him not being rewarded with playtime this fall should he continue to work hard. I am sure his weightroom dedication can't hurt especially with a Mariotti.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

i dont know how you can dislike tressel so much... cooper i could understand he was a constant underachiever who couldnt beat carr. tressel brought a national championship and meatchicken dominance

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

RBuck's picture

Even if he doesn't turn into the type of playmaker Urban wants, every team needs a possession receiver. I think we found one.

Long live the southend.