FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was selected Saturday by the Washington Redskins with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2013 National Football League Draft.
Thomas, at 6-1, 215-pounds, becomes the 24th Bulldog drafted since 2000 and is the seventh safety to be selected, the last being Tyrone Culver by the Green Bay Packers in 2006.
Jackie Fellows in 1944 is the only other Bulldog that has been drafted by the Redskins.
Thomas became the first player in Fresno State history to be named a unanimous All-American in 2012, a year in which his eight interceptions led the nation and set a new Mountain West record. Thomas returned three interceptions for touchdowns and also forced four fumbles on the year.
Along with the All-America accolades, Thomas garnered a number of other honors during his senior season. He became the school's first-ever finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award that honors the nation's top defensive back, was the 2012 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and received the College Football Performance Awards Defensive Back Trophy.
Thomas did all this while coming back from a broken leg and dislocated ankle that caused him to miss all of his junior season in 2011.
For his career, Thomas ranks first in school history with four interceptions returned for touchdowns and that is one shy of tying the NCAA career record. He picked off 13 total passes in his time with the Bulldogs, ranking seventh in school history.
Thomas had 178 tackles, 17.0 tackles for a loss, four sacks, six forced fumbles and 15 pass breakups. His 12.0 tackles for a loss as a senior led the team and tied for fourth in the Mountain West.
He forced four fumbles in 2012 to tie for eighth nationally in that category and he tied for the FBS lead with nine total take-aways (eight interceptions, one fumble recovery). Thomas also had a team-high 84 tackles in 2012.
Courtesy: Fresno St. Athletics
The Chicago Bears were seeking a downfield threat in the NFL draft and got a low-risk investment with big upside in Marquess Wilson.
It is not common for seventh-round draft picks to pan out as big-time players but before a puzzling 2012 season at Washington State, the wide receiver was viewed as a potentially big prospect for the NFL. Wilson quit after nine games this past season and accused coach Mike Leach of abuse, something he later recanted. Wilson's exit happened after he was suspended for violating team rules.
"I feel like I could have handled it a little better but like I said I am just moving forward," Wilson said. "I am excited about the opportunity I have at hand."
Wilson said he met with the Bears in Pullman, Wash., and then was in semi-regular contact with the club leading up to the draft. Coach Marc Trestman said what happened in school was not a red flag for the team when it came to Wilson's character.
"I would consider it a young guy making a very, very small mistake that put him in a position that got him in trouble," Trestman said. "I think that like any young guy, I am a parent, we're parents here. Our kids have made mistakes along the way. He's a good kid with a big upside. He's come to the right place. He's come to a locker room where we have players and coaches that will set him straight right from the beginning and get him going the right direction. It's an exciting opportunity for us to grow a young man, to allow him to mature off the field as well as on it and the upside as a talent, we're very excited about it."
At 6-2, 194 pounds, he has a big frame and was very productive for the Cougars with 189 receptions for 3,207 yards (17 yards per catch) and 23 touchdowns in only 33 college games. But he needs to get stronger and has struggled with drops at times.
Wide receiver wasn't a high need for the Bears but barring the troubles he had in Pullman, Wash., he is an intriguing prospect and the risk with the 236th overall pick was minimal. At that point in the draft, teams are basically securing players that they don't want to have to compete for in free agency.
"We felt that the point in the draft that a person of this kind of talent deserved a second chance," general manager Phil Emery said. "His biggest sin is he walked out. He made a young decision. He's just 20. He's going to be 21 this fall. Felt very comfortable that this was a good person who made an immature decision. He's owned up to that decision. He's ready to roll. We're very excited he's with the Chicago Bears."
The Bears acquired the seventh-round pick when they traded down in the fifth round with the Atlanta Falcons.
Courtesy: Chicago Tribune