Utah’s Tavion Thomas Details Complicated Relationship With Ohio State

Dec 31, 2021, 9:09 AM
Tavion Thomas - Utah Utes - Oregon Ducks - Pac-12 Championship Game...
Running back Tavion Thomas #9 of the Utah Utes scores a touchdown against safety Jordan Happle #32 of the Oregon Ducks during the Pac-12 Conference championship game at Allegiant Stadium on December 3, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – The next chapter in the relationship between Utah running back Tavion Thomas and Ohio State will be written on New Year’s Day at the Rose Bowl. A chapter that Thomas hopes leaves an unforgettable impression with the Buckeyes.

“I used to love watching Ohio State,” Thomas said during his media availability leading up to the Rose Bowl Game on Saturday.

Makes sense for a kid who grew up in Dayton, Ohio, just an hour drive down I-70 from Ohio State University.

“I grew up watching them. Braxton Miller and all of them boys. I was an (Ezekiel Elliott) fan too.”

Thomas was no pushover coming out of Dunbar High School. According to 247 Sports, he was a three-star running back with more than 30 college offers. So why didn’t Thomas end up at his dream school, Ohio State?

“I was going to commit,” Thomas remembered about his recruiting process. “But they wanted me to go to JUCO first.”

That wasn’t the plan that Thomas had in mind.

“I wasn’t really feeling that. So yeah, it’s a love-hate relationship.”

Thomas enrolled at Cincinnati instead where he played in 12 games between the 2018-19 seasons. In his freshman year he rushed for 499 yards and six touchdowns. But it was the game against Ohio State the following season that left the strongest impression. Thomas ran the ball 11 times for 58 yards in a 42-0 loss to the Buckeyes.

“I still have that bad taste in my mouth,” Thomas said.

Being told he wasn’t good enough to be on the roster out of high school, to losing in a blowout in his only opportunity against Ohio State is enough for that bad taste to linger. It has lasted long enough that Thomas is really looking forward to Saturday’s rematch.

“To play those boys again is a great experience. I want them again.”

He doesn’t just want them again. He wants to make sure they never forget his performance.

“(I want) to show them. Just to show them what they missed out on.”

Kickoff between Utah and Ohio State is scheduled for 3:00 pm MST on ESPN.

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Utah’s Tavion Thomas Details Complicated Relationship With Ohio State