Wilson Thomas led Nebraska in receptions and receiving yardage for the second straight year in 2002. Quarterback Jammal Lord looked to Thomas as a go-to-receiver and the 6-6 senior responded with 27 receptions for a team-high 319 yards. His 2002 campaign came on the heels of a strong junior season, in which Thomas led the Huskers with 37 receptions. Thomas earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 honors from the league's coaches for the second straight season.
Thomas caught three touchdown passes this fall, an eight-yarder in the opener against Arizona State, a 23-yard grab vs. Utah State and a 27-yard reception from Lord against Kansas. Thomas caught a season-high five balls at Iowa State and had three four-catch outings during the regular season. He had a season-high 59 yards receiving on four catches at Texas A&M, which moved him into the top 10 on the NU career receptions list. Thomas' 27 catches this season bring his career total to 65, good for a tie for eighth place on the NU career chart.
Thomas has recorded five games in 2002 and 14 in his Husker career with three or more receptions. Thomas has caught a pass in 18 of NU's last 23 contests and stands 57 yards from becoming the 12th Husker to reach 1,000 career receiving yards.
An all-around receiver, Thomas is regarded as an excellent blocker on the perimeter. He and his fellow receivers played a key role in an NU ground game that averaged a conference-leading 268.9 yards per game. He also played basketball for the Huskers the past two winters, averaging 1.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 2001 (17 games) and 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 2002 (16 games, including three starts), joining Coach Barry Collier's teams after the bowl games. Thomas? best game came against Missouri in Lincoln in 2002, when he had his only double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
2001: Thomas set a Nebraska single-season position record with 616 yards receiving as a junior, while ranking second in school history among split ends with 37 receptions. He also hauled in three touchdown grabs on the year with two scores against Texas Tech and one touchdown against Rice. Thomas is just the third Husker receiver since 1983 to record 30 receptions in a season, joining Matt Davison's 32 in 1998 and Johnny Mitchell's 31 in 1991. Thomas' receptions are the most in a single season for a Nebraska receiver since 1984 NFL No. 1 overall draft pick Irving Fryar had 40 receptions for 780 yards in 1983.
Thomas opened the season with three catches for 53 yards against TCU, including a 22-yard grab. Thomas had five receptions for 83 yards against Troy State, including a 36-yard catch in the win over the Trojans. Thomas started but did not record a reception, as the Huskers attempted just nine passes in a 27-10 win over No. 17 Notre Dame. He hauled in his first touchdown of the season on a 42-yard strike in the first quarter against Rice. In the game, Thomas caught four passes for 76 yards. Thomas made three receptions for 59 yards at Missouri, including a 37-yard catch. Against Iowa State, Thomas grabbed two receptions for 29 yards, including a 22-yarder. In the Huskers' win at Baylor, Thomas recorded one catch for 18 yards on a rainy day. He scored on two touchdown strikes for the Huskers from 19 and 35 yards en route to racking up 76 yards on four catches against Texas Tech. Thomas did not start against Oklahoma, as the Huskers opened in a two-tight end set, but he still produced one of the best games of his career with six catches for 48 yards in the 20-10 win over then-BCS No. 1 Oklahoma. At Kansas, Thomas matched his career high with six receptions for 65 yards in a 51-7 win. Thomas was held without a reception for just the second time in 2001, as Nebraska attempted just seven passes in a 31-21 win over Kansas State. Thomas' streak of at least one pass reception ended at seven games. Thomas posted the first 100-yard receiving game of his career at Colorado, hauling in three receptions for 109 yards, including a career-long 78-yard reception. It marked the only 100-yard receiving game for the Huskers in 2001 and the first since Tracey Wistrom had 101 yards against Iowa State in the fifth game of 2000. Thomas started and made three receptions for 36 yards against Miami in the 2002 Rose Bowl. His three catches led all Huskers.
2000: Thomas alternated with starting split end Matt Davison. He played in eight games, started two (vs. OU and KU), missing three contests with a sprained ankle (Iowa State, Texas Tech and Baylor). He made his first collegiate reception vs. Kansas, an eight-yard grab. He played in the 2000 Alamo Bowl, but did not have a reception.
1999: Thomas played in every game behind Davison at split end and started two games, vs. Southern Miss and Texas A&M, when NU opened in a three-wideout and a double-wing formation, respectively. He had one solo tackle in the season opener against Iowa on an NU interception, but no catches. Thomas played in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl vs. Tennessee.
1998: A scholarship athlete, Thomas redshirted his first season.
At Omaha North HS: Although he didn't play football until his junior year, Thomas earned first-team All-Nebraska honors from the Omaha World-Herald and first-team super-state honors from the Lincoln Journal Star as a defensive lineman in 1997. Thomas was also named to USA Today's honorable-mention All-America team playing for Coach Herman Colvin at Class A Omaha North. Playing wide receiver and rush end, Thomas recorded 90 tackles and recorded 14 sacks and averaged 15 yards per catch as a senior. He also played basketball for four seasons, earning All-Nebraska honors from the World-Herald, as he averaged 15.9 points and nine rebounds in helping North finish with a 15-5 record in 1997. A three-year track letterman, Thomas cleared 6-7 in the high jump, went 44 feet in the triple jump and had a best of 23 feet in the long jump. He was recruited by Iowa State, Kansas State, Colorado State and New Mexico State, but only visited NU.
Personal: The son of Darcel Brown and Wilson Thomas, Sr., the younger Thomas was born on Oct. 21, 1979, in Omaha. He is active in the Omaha Young Sisters and Brothers organization. Thomas was only the second high school player in the history of Nebraska football summer camps (joining former Husker and current Green Bay running back Ahman Green) to break the 2,000-point barrier on NU's Performance Index, consisting of marks in the 10-yard dash, 40-yard dash, vertical jump and agility run. Thomas is majoring in business management and is on schedule to graduate in May 2003. Thomas is a member of the 2002 Nebraska Football Unity Council.
Tackles: 5 UT, 0 AT, 5 TT Total; 1 UT, 0 AT, 1 TT in 1999; 2 UT, 0 AT, 2 TT in 2001; 2 UT, 0 AT, 2 TT in 2002
2000 Alamo Bowl vs. Northwestern: Receiving, none
2000 Fiesta Bowl vs. Tennessee: Receiving, none
2002 Rose Bowl vs. Miami: Receiving, 3-36-0
Receptions: 6 vs. Oklahoma, Kansas, 2001
Reception Yards: 109 vs. Colorado, 2001
Long Reception: 78 vs. Colorado, 2001
TD Receptions: 2 vs. Texas Tech, 2001
Number of Games with Three or More Catches: 14 (9 in 2001, 5 in 2002)
Number of Career Catches of 25-Plus Yards: 8 (5 in 2001, 3 in 2002)
Number of Career Catches of 45-Plus Yards: 1 vs. Colorado, 2001