You'd think it would be impossible for Cam Thomas to get lost in the background. At 6 feet 4 and 325 pounds, Thomas' size tends to give him away.
But at North Carolina, on a defense with four first-team All-ACC selections and twice as many NFL prospects, there was a tendency for Thomas to get lost in the shuffle.
Thomas will get his moment to shine later this month at the NFL draft. In what's shaping up to be the "Year of the Defensive Tackle," the UNC senior figures to be the first player from the area to hear his name called at the draft, which is a made-for-ESPN, three-day extravaganza this year from April 22 to 24.
With strong performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL combine, the "Triplefattgoose" (his Twitter handle) is expected to go in the second or third rounds, which are April 23 in New York. (The first round has been moved to April 22, a Thursday night, for a primetime telecast).
Thomas, who's from Eagle Springs, was often overshadowed on a UNC defensive front that included Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin, but he finished the season with 20 tackles, a touchdown and a blocked kick.
"That doesn't matter," Thomas said. "That's part of the job [at defensive tackle]. You're there to let other guys make plays."
The defensive tackle position will likely get its due in this draft. Four are projected to go in the first round, and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy could be the first two players taken.
Thomas' stock has improved because of his appeal to teams that use a 3-4 defense, where he could play nose tackle. That would be a minor change from his role in college in UNC's 4-3 scheme.
"I'll do whatever they want me to do," Thomas said. "They want the 'Great Wall of China,' I'll be that guy."
The New England Patriots, with three second-round picks and a 3-4 defense, are reportedly one of the teams interested in Thomas.
Not that Thomas is packing his bags for Boston.
"To be honest, I really don't care where I'm picked," Thomas said. "I just want to play. I can't be picky. I'm not a picky guy."
Fool me once: Burned by flighty coach Lane Kiffin's exit after one season, Tennessee made sure that if new coach Derek Dooley wants to "pull a Kiffin," he'll pay the price. Dooley's contract includes a $4 million penalty if he decides to leave in the next two seasons, according to the Knoxville-News Sentinel.
On the flip side, if the Vols have any designs on jettisoning the son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, they'll have to pay him $5 million - if he's fired in the next three seasons.
Is there any wonder why Duke coach David Cutcliffe wanted no part of the Tennessee circus?
Things that make you go 'hmmm': The NCAA can't fix college football's postseason because it is complicated by television contracts, bowl tradition, individual conference whims and the diverse opinions of 120 Division I members.
Yet in the span of three months, it can get CBS to rip up a billion-dollar contract, soothe the egos of 347 Division I teams and fundamentally rearrange the basketball postseason?
Apparently, the NCAA is only concerned about the missed class time of the "student-athletes" who play football.
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