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The 2012 NFL Draft might not be for another 237 days, but the scouting process for most teams is a year round job.
SoB learned — in a phone conversation with Tennessee State University’s running back coach Kevin Mashack — that the Patriots were one of several teams that traveled to Nashville, Tenn., this summer to watch senior back Dante’ Thomas and request game tape.
In Friday’s edition of The Advocate, I wrote about Thomas as TSU prepares to play Southern University of Baton Rouge.
After rushing for 697 yards and four touchdowns in his first two seasons in Nashville, Tenn., Thomas saw an increased role in 2010. Following a season-ending injury by Brown against North Carolina A&T in October, Thomas stepped in with a career-best performance.
“He’s just waited for his number to get called,” Mashack said. “That’s what I love about him. Doesn’t matter if he’s first or third, when his number is called, he’s ready.”
With 35,217 in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, Thomas rushed for 186 yards on 24 carries and scored twice to help TSU top North Carolina A&T 37-7. Despite a 3-8 record last season, TSU averaged 190 rushing yards per game.
Thomas brings the Tigers an explosive threat who has the ability to score every time he touches the ball. At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds and a true “get to the corner and go” back as Mashack describes, Thomas compared himself to former Tulane, and current Chicago Bears running back, Matt Forté.
With rookies Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen newly added to the roster there isn’t a pressing need for a running back.
Still, it’s the NFL Draft, and it’s news: But for now we’ll be concerned with the 2011 season.
Follow Matthew Marcantonio on Twitter: @M_Marcantonio