Eastside routes region foe Henry
Up next, No. 8 Woodward
COVINGTON, Ga. — Ask Terrance Banks how he describes the worth of running backs Nuru Tinch and Adarius Thomas to his team, and he’ll start speaking ‘depth chart.’
“They’re 1A and 1B,” Banks said of his Newton Rams offensive backfield. Of course much of the talk coming into the season was of Nuru Tinch. The 6-foot, 215-pound tank of a running back committed to UAB just before the season got started good, and when he’s healthy and running hard, he looks about as good as any high school back in the state.
But Tinch hasn’t played a ton of full games this season due to a combination of blowout wins and illness, as well as some of the nagging aches and injuries that accumulate at this point of the season.
However, when Tinch is sidelined, his diminutive counterpart, Thomas — affectionately called “DD” by his teammates — makes sure there is no slack off.
While Tinch is the kind of one-cutand-go tailback that would rather run over you than run around you, Thomas is more of a scatback type. He’s shifty with speed, but his hands give him the ability to be useful as a receiver in the flats and coming out of the back field. In last week’s 30-8 win over South Gwinnett, Thomas spelled Tinch who Banks said had a flare up of a stomach virus during halftime. All Thomas did was rush for 70 yards and tack on another 71 yard receiving, along with a score. He made timely runs and clutch catches to help Newton move the sticks and keep drives alive.
And while many may be watching and waiting for Tinch have such kind of performances on a regular basis, Banks is quick to point out that people ought not be surprised to see Thomas’ role in the offense continue to increase. “We have extreme confidence in Adarius Thomas,” Banks said. “People don’t realize this about Dee Dee, but last year he was our starting tailback as a sophomore. And that’s because he won that job out over everybody else. The only reason why we don’t ask for more of him on offense is because we ask so much of him on both sides of the ball. But both of those guys, Dee Dee and Nuru, are important to our offense.” Senior quarterback Myron Middlebrooks agrees with his coach about Thomas, using no uncertain terms.
“DD is a great athlete,” Middlebrooks said. “I mean that boy is amazing. He’s a great kid. Him, as well as Nuru, it’s like having another quarterback back there because he knows where the plays are designed to go and who is responsible for what.”
And for Thomas, his shared role in the backfield isn’t a matter of competition with teammate. It’s all about him taking pride in his contribution to his team.
“It feels good that I can help my team and I would do anything to help my team,” Thomas said. “I’ve been helping my team since I was a sophomore, so it comes first nature to me. Anywhere on the field they need me, I go there and dominate, no matter who’s in front of me.”
He’s proven that on the field, too. Before Saturday’s game with Archer, Thomas was averaging 6.6 yards per carry with a pair of rushing touchdowns, and he’s the team’s third leading receiver, yardage wise, with 106 yards and two touchdown catches.
His stats may not be gaudy, but Middlebrooks says they are timely — which, to him, means more, because it shows the work Thomas has done to raise his football IQ.
“He’s improved on his progressions,” Middlebrooks said. “He knows the correct holes to move through and where to bounce back. I love him to death. He really helps me a lot in the backfield.” It’s not bad for a tailback who, as a sophomore, was thrust somewhat unexpectedly into the limelight. After now-Michigan freshman Kurt Taylor transferred from Newton to Grayson after his 1,500 yard junior season, the void gave way for Thomas to fill it in. Perhaps that’s the reason why he takes a fearless approach to the game, regardless of the obstacles around him or the opponent in front of him.
“It’s the same way every day,” he said. “I don’t look at one team no other way but to dominate them. I put in work all week as usual, and on game day, I go out and give 110 percent on the field, no matter who it’s against.”