Oklahoma defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas is supposed to be one of the standout players on Alex Grinch’s Speed Defense this fall. The senior from Tulsa, Oklahoma was an All-Big 12 second-team selection in 2020, after registering a team best 13 tackles for loss and 8.5 quarterback sacks, and is firmly expected to lead the defensive charge in 2021. However, he hit a bit of a speed bump over the weekend that has fans wondering what his future may hold.
Thomas was arrested early Sunday morning, after failing to appear on a previous petty larceny charge, and as news of the arrest made its rounds in the afternoon, so did the overreactions. The season is, in fact, not doomed based off this news and here’s two reasons why.
First, it’s petty larceny. I get it that Oklahoma fans may be a but gun shy (pun intended) following the arrest and dismissal of running back Seth McGowan and receiver Trejan Bridges but this is a completely different situation. I am in no way trying to downplay the issue here but we also can’t compare it to felony assault with a firearm. Just two different things. Thomas broke the law and will undoubtedly be punished, both by civil authorities and his coaches. I can promise you that the punishment received by the coaches will most likely be more severe than what the court system does and that absolutely isn’t the case with McGowan and Bridges which is why they are no longer on the team and Thomas will be. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Thomas face a suspension of some sort, nor would it surprise me to see everything handled internally. Either way, I would agree that the punishment fit the crime here.
Should the worst case scenario present itself (I would bet the house that it won’t), and Thomas is shown the door, the second thing to keep in mind here is that Oklahoma is extremely deep at defensive line. With or without Thomas the Sooners are going to have the best defensive front in the Big 12 and one of the top units in the nation. The spring roster had OU going 13 deep at the defensive line position and was littered with names like Perrion Winfrey, Jalen Redmond, Jordan Kelley and LaRon Stokes. Is Thomas a valuable member of this defense? Absolutely he is! The point I’m making is that there are positions on this team where losing a key member could be devastating, the defensive line isn’t one of them.
The PR hit to the program is going to be the worst part of this situation. Thomas will continue to make plays but, in the shadow of McGowan and Bridges, any story with an OU football player having troubles with the law is going to teeter towards insanity on social media. That’s why it is so important to not compare apples to oranges here.
Follow us on Twitter: @SportsHeartland