Fresno State's Phillip Thomas Named to AFCA All-America Team
Nov. 28, 2012
WACO, Texas - Fresno State senior safety Phillip Thomas was named to the 2012 AFCA FBS Coaches' All-America Team that was announced Wednesday by the American Football Coaches Association.
Thomas, a 6-1, 215-pound native of Bakersfield, Calif., becomes the 15th different player in program history to be named a first-team All-American and the first since return specialist A.J. Jefferson in 2007. Thomas, Erv Hunt (1968) and Steve Cordle (1981) are the only Bulldog safeties in school history to be named first-team All-Americans.
Thomas also becomes the ninth player in Mountain West history to be recognized as an AFCA All-American, joining the likes of New Mexico's Brian Urlacher (1999), BYU's Matt Payne (2004), Utah's Eric Weddle (2006), Utah's Louie Sakoda (2008), BYU's Dennis Pitta (2009), TCU's Jerry Hughes (2009), Air Force's Reggie Rembert (2010) and TCU's Tank Carder (2010).
The senior safety is also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which honors the top defensive back in college football. The Thorpe Award winner will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 6 during The Home Depot College Football Awards show at 4:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.
"I couldn't be happier for Phillip being named as an AFCA FBS Coaches' All-American," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "Whether leading the country in interceptions, making big sacks, forcing fumbles, or scoring himself, he truly had a huge impact on nearly every game. Phillip is very deserving of this honor."
After missing all of the 2011 season with a broken leg and dislocated ankle, Thomas returned stronger than ever for his senior season in 2012.
Thomas finished his regular season as the national leader in interceptions with eight, which was the most by a Bulldog in 27 years and set a new Mountain West single-season record.
He returned three interceptions for touchdowns and his nine total take-aways (eight picks, one fumble recovery) are both tied for the FBS lead. Thomas' three pick-sixes have set a new school record, tied the Mountain West single-season record and is one off the NCAA record.
Additionally, Thomas' four forced fumbles are tied for the seventh-most in the nation. He led the Bulldogs this year with 82 tackles and his 12.0 tackles for a loss were the second-most in the MW.
In 2011 without Thomas on the field, Fresno State went 4-9 and tied for dead last nationally with nine turnovers gained. This season with Thomas back leading the Bulldog defense, Fresno State went 9-3, claimed a share of its first conference title since 1999 and is tied for third nationally with 33 take-aways.
The Bulldogs have registered the biggest turnover turnaround in the FBS this century (a difference of 24 turnovers form last year to this one) and have become the first team this century to have under 10 take-aways one season but over 30 the next.
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best -- the coaches themselves.