June 8, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Mike Thomas, 1975

Halfback, Washington Redskins

Age:  22
College: Nevada – Las Vegas
Height: 5’11” Weight: 190

As a college freshman at Oklahoma, Thomas ran 90 yards for a touchdown on his first carry, but an injury finished his season and he transferred to UNLV. In two years, he rushed for 3149 yards, which set a school record, and scored 40 TDs. Thomas was chosen by the Redskins in the fifth round of the 1975 NFL draft. While Head Coach George Allen was notorious for not starting rookies, injuries to veteran HB Larry Brown necessitated the insertion of Thomas into the lineup.

1975 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 235 [8]
Most attempts, game - 27 (for 124 yds.) at Cleveland 10/26
Yards – 919 [10]
Most yards, game – 124 yards (on 27 carries) at Cleveland 10/26
Average gain – 3.9
TDs – 4
100-yard rushing games – 3

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 40      
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 52 yds.) at Philadelphia 10/5, (for 72 yds.) at Houston 10/19, (for 33 yds.) at Atlanta 12/7
Yards – 483
Most yards, game – 74 (on 4 catches) vs. Minnesota 11/30
Average gain – 12.1
TDs – 3

All-Purpose yards – 1402 [10]

TDs – 7
Points – 42

Awards & Honors:
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA (co-winner)
NFC Rookie of the Year: UPI

Redskins went 8-6 to finish third in the NFC East while leading the NFC in passing yards (2917).

Thomas followed up with a Pro Bowl year in 1976 in which he rushed for a career-high 1101 yards. Playing hurt in ’77, and with a more crowded backfield situation, he gained 806 yards on the ground and, after playing out his option in a 1978 season in which he gained 920 yards from scrimmage (533 rushing, 387 receiving), Thomas was dealt to the San Diego Chargers. With the pass-oriented Chargers, and splitting time with Clarence Williams, Thomas gained more receiving yards (388 on 32 catches) than rushing yards (353 on 91 attempts) and he played one more year, gaining 484 yards on the ground and 218 through the air, before his career came to an end. Overall, he rushed for 4196 yards on 1087 carries (3359 yards on 878 attempts with the Redskins)  and caught 192 passes for 2011 yards (131 and 1405, respectively, with Washington), scoring a total of 30 touchdowns and going to the Pro Bowl once.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).