This past NFL draft saw former Michigan stars David Terrell and Anthony Thomas not only selected to play professional football, but they both were picked by the same team.
The Chicago Bears decided to use the eighth pick overall to select Terrell, the wide receiver, and with their second-round pick, they took the Michigan running back, Thomas.
“It”s something that we never thought would happen. We didn”t expect that Chicago would use their two picks to take both of us, but then they did,” Thomas said.
Both feel very lucky that they can come to Chicago with someone they have experience playing with.
“It”s special,” Terrell said. “We grew up together at Michigan and now that we”re moving on to the NFL. It makes it easier. When I make a mistake, I can look back at Anthony and he”ll say come on man, let”s get going. And I can do the same for him.”
The impressive college careers that both players had at Michigan made the Bears strongly consider them when selecting their draft picks. Terrell was the first receiver in Michigan history with two 1,000-yard seasons and has single season records for receiving yards with 1,130 and touchdowns at 14. He has the second most catches in Michigan history with 152 and the third most career receiving yards with 2,317. During his sophomore year, he was the Orange Bowl MVP in the Wolverines” win over Alabama where he had 10 catches and 3 touchdowns.
Thomas was a finalist for the Doak Walker award last year given to the nation”s best running back, and set Michigan records with 4,472 yards, 924 carries and 55 touchdowns. His 6,002 career all-purpose yards are the second most in Michigan history. Thomas received Citrus Bowl MVP honors last year when the Wolverines defeated Auburn.
Despite all these accomplishments, the review from the Chicago media has been mixed. While most papers applauded the Bears” selections, others criticized the Bears for taking Terrell instead of wide receiver Koren Robinson from North Carolina State. An additional complaint was voiced in an article from The Chicago Tribune which said that the Bears evaluated the character of the Michigan players too highly. The writer claimed that because Terrell was concerned about academics and that Thomas was a happily married family man, they couldn”t be the kind of bone crunching thugs that the Bears needed.
Currently, the newest members of the Bears” squad are in mini-camp preparing for the season. They”re working hard before summer camp begins, where the final roster of the team is selected and all active members of the Bears” practice together.
“In mini-camp, you practice, you meet, you practice, you meet, then you go to sleep at night, wake up and start practicing again,” Thomas said. “I haven”t had a chance to see what”s going on in Chicago yet. I spend my off time learning the offense and once I get that down I can check out the nightlife.”
“Between practicing and trying to learn the new plays, it”s an all-out fight,” Terrell said.
Their performance in summer workouts will also determine how much playing time Terrell and Thomas will get during the NFL season. Terrell is competing with Bobby Engram for a spot opposite wide receiver Marcus Robinson. Thomas is looking to fill a void left by former Penn State star Curtis Enis.
“I don”t know yet how much playing time I”m going to get,” Thomas said. “I”m going into mini-camp just to show them what I can do.”
Terrell and Thomas both feel they are physically ready to play in the NFL and are not intimidated by the speed of the game or the size of NFL players. The hardest part about the transition for them has been learning new plays and systems.
“The biggest thing for me because I”m an offensive player is learning the playbook,” Terrell said. “They throw the playbook at you and they really throw it at you. You”ve got to know it, because if you don”t, you won”t have time to catch up because there”s so much to learn.”
“Learning a different offense after doing the same thing for four years, that”s a challenge for anyone,” Thomas said.
Although the two players are adjusting to the professional ranks, there”s still something familiar that followed Thomas from his college days.
“(My teammates) all call me Train,” Thomas said. “Everybody knew who I was and picked up on it.”
They both feel very prepared for the mental challenges that playing on an NFL team can present. Terrell”s high visibility with Michigan football helps him deal with the new expectations put on him as a top-10 pick.
“I knew what it was like to be under pressure and have a lot of things expected of me,” Terrell said. “There wasn”t a day since I was a freshman (Michigan”s coaches) didn”t put pressure on my back expecting great things.”
Terrell”s move is also helped by already having a close friend settled in Chicago. In last year”s basketball draft, the Chicago Bulls selected former Wolverine basketball standout Jamal Crawford.
Crawford and Terrell developed a friendship when they were both at Michigan. During that time, they played a one-on-one game of basketball with a surprise ending Terrell won.
“Me and Jamal are real close,” Terrell said. “We keep in contact and hang out. When he”s playing I”m watching, when I”m playing, he”s watching,” said Terrell.
Even though they are playing in Chicago, both plan on spending time in Michigan. Thomas” wife still lives in Michigan, so this summer he has spent the week in Chicago and the weekends in Ann Arbor.
Although Terrell left to play professional football after his junior year, he still plans to graduate from Michigan next year.
“I”ll be back in Ann Arbor after the season ends,” Terrell said. “Probably around January I”ll come back to school to get my 11 hours. I”m still “Go Blue” and I want to graduate with my graduating class. Then I”ll give my diploma to my mom, celebrate for a day and get back to work.”
With the entirety of last year”s offensive “triple threat” Thomas, Terrell and quarterback Drew Henson leaving Michigan this past year, some are worried that Michigan won”t have a strong football team. But Terrell and Thomas are optimistic and predict a successful season.
“They have a real good team,” Terrell said. “A lot of guys are coming back that know how to play football and the defense knows how to play Michigan defense. The defense is going to be a big pickup this year. With John Navarre playing quarterback and Walter Cross and Chris Perry at running back, you have the makings of a good offense too. With every team you have people leaving, and people coming in.
“These guys coming up watched Anthony, Drew and me like I watched guys like Tai Streets and Aaron Shea. They know what”s expected of them. They saw me do it, and I saw the people before me do it.”
“I have a lot of confidence in those guys,” Thomas said. “The starters are strong. They should have a good year.”