Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/15/14

It’s easy for me to sit here and talk about how dumb Darron Thomas must be to leave Oregon and enter the NFL draft a year early. If you look at it from a deeper level, though, you might come to realize what I have: that Thomas might just have made the right decision.

As Oregon’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, Thomas helped take the Ducks to heights the team had never before reached, including a 12-0 regular season in 2010 and an appearance in the BCS national championship. He also threw for 268 yards in Oregon’s first Rose Bowl victory since 1917. So, to be sure, Thomas was a great fit for Chip Kelly and the innovative Oregon offense.

And, after seeing Oregon’s 2012 football schedule, it’s easy to realize that Oregon has the best track to make it into next year’s national title game. Knowing that, it’s hard to imagine why Darron Thomas, a player with little to no NFL future, would give that up and declare himself for the 2012 draft.

Until you remember where it is Thomas came from, and who is waiting to take over his starting job. We’ll start with the latter; redshirt freshman Bryan Bennett was more than impressive in his appearances this year, and he even replaced a struggling Thomas in the second half of a win against Washington State. Entering his sophomore year, Bennett would have surely competed for the starting job. And when you consider the fact that Kelly holds position battles every single year, Thomas knew that he would have had to beat Bennett to get the starting job. Not many quarterbacks who have led their teams to consecutive BCS bowl appearances would be willing to do that.

You may also remember from an ESPN segment or some past article you’ve read that Thomas comes from a humble past. His mother still works at Target and barely gets by, and she was more than sad that he left her Texas home to move all the way to Eugene, Oregon, a place she knew she couldn’t afford to visit.

In addition, Thomas has been caught in his share of sticky situations, including run-ins with the law with both Jeremiah Masoli and Cliff Harris, a pair of former teammates who were kicked off the Oregon football team.

Taking all of that into account, along with the notion that another year at Oregon likely wouldn’t improve his draft stock – Oregon is still built on the running game – Thomas’ decision isn’t so crazy after all.

Even if he doesn’t get drafted or signed to a free agent deal with an NFL team, Thomas will get a chance to play in the CFL, earn a six-figure salary, and make a name for himself. For a young football player in such a terrible economy, the opportunity to earn that much money early in life makes a lot of sense, especially since he’s so supportive of the mother who did everything she could for him during his upbringing.

What would one more year at Oregon have brought him? A chance at a national title, and little more. The risk/reward of suffering a devastating injury or losing his starting job is incredibly low, considering his draft stock likely couldn’t get much higher than it is right now. What will leaving Oregon do for him now? He’ll make a great deal of money, be able to support his family, and leave his starting job behind on his own accord.

And that’s a pretty darn good deal.


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