During the summer, ESPN.com is taking a closer look at each scholarship player on Oklahoma’s roster in our Crimson Countdown series. Each day, we analyze each player’s impact on the program since arriving on campus, his potential impact this fall, and his long-term projection. Starting with No. 1 Dominique Alexander, the series follows the roster numerically through No. 98 Chuka Ndulue.
No. 13 Ahmad Thomas, defensive back, 6-foot, 218 pounds, sophomore
Impact thus far: Thomas didn’t make a clear impact on the Sooners as a true freshman, but his progress and improvement was evident. He played a significant role on special teams and spent more time on the defensive side of the ball in the later part of the season. He played in 12 games and had nine tackles, including one tackle for loss.
Impact in 2014: Arguably the star of the spring for the Sooners, Thomas is poised to become an impact performer as a sophomore. He’s talented, versatile and getting more and more comfortable in OU's scheme with each passing day. It would be a surprise for him to spend the majority of the 2014 season watching from the sidelines like he did in 2013. OU lined him up at safety and nickelback during the spring, and he should be ability to play several different roles for Mike Stoops' defense this fall.
Long-term upside: Thomas has all-conference talent and is developing like the Sooners would hope to see from a young player. If he continues the progress he has made during his time on campus he should be a core contributor for at least two seasons and be a likely All-Big 12 honoree at some point in his career.
Evaluation grade for Thomas: B. The only reason this grade is not an "A" is the lack of actual production from Thomas thus far. All signs point to this grade rising to an "A" before his career is over. He earned a role on special teams as a freshman and even worked his way onto the field on defense during the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Add the consistent praise from the coaching staff and teammates during the spring and Thomas looks like a terrific evaluation who is poised to be part of the foundation of the defense.
Development grade for Thomas: B. Not too much to bicker about here. The Sooners could have put Thomas in the mix on defense more, particularly when games were in hand. Outside of that small change, Thomas got 12 games worth of experience as a special teamer and did see some time on defense as a freshman. That experience has helped put him in the position to help OU’s defense as a sophomore.
Quotable: “He’s a guy that can do a lot of different things. As a young player, you don’t want to throw too much at them, too fast. But I think Ahmad has a good feel for his position and we can start moving him around.” -- Stoops on Thomas’ versatility.