Pierre Thomas (American football)
No. 23 New Orleans Saints
|Date of birth:December 18, 1984|
|Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois|
|High school: Lansing (IL) T. F. South|
|Undrafted in 2007|
|Debuted in 2007 for the New Orleans Saints|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2012
Charles Pierre Thomas Jr. (born December 18, 1984) is an American football running back for the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League. Thomas led the Saints in total rushing yards in 2008 and 2009.
Early years 
Pierre Thomas's first love was baseball and it was not until a year before high school that he picked up football. Thomas played for the Lansing Lions as a youth. Thomas lead Thornton Fractional South High School to the state semifinals as a senior and set school career rushing records of 88 touchdowns and 5,522 yards that also ranked in the top 10 in Illinois state history. Some of his self-taught practice for high school football included running up a steep hill with a backpack full of books on and pushing cars around. He was recruited by the University of Illinois. Pierre's biggest inspiration is his mother and his cousin. His hero is Barry Sanders, former running back for the Detroit Lions.
2003 Season 
Team's second leading rusher with 233 yards on 43 carries ... Caught three passes for 12 yards and returned seven kicks for 134 yards ... Scored two touchdowns at Michigan ... Rushed for 78 yards on nine carries in his collegiate debut vs. Illinois State, including a career-long run of 35 yards ... Gained 70 yards on 15 carries vs. Minnesota.
2004 Season 
Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the conference coaches ... Named the team's Most Valuable Player ... Led the conference in all-purpose yards, which ranked 13th in the country (151.4 per contest) ... Averaged 27.1 yards per kickoff return, which ranked third in the league and 10th in the nation ... Became the 31st player in Illinois history to rush for over 1,000 career yards (1,126) ... Ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rushing with 81.2 yards per game ... Also had the Big Ten's fifth-best touchdown scoring average with 5.5 points per game ... Ranks second in school history for single-season kickoff return yardage with 677 ... Tallied a career-high 188 yards rushing on 21 carries at Michigan State ... Had a career-long 69-yard run - Illinois' longest run of the season - and rushed for two TDs against the Spartans ... His 188 yards rushing were the most by a UI player since Antoineo Harris had 195 yards vs. Purdue during the 2002 season ... Ran for 185 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries vs. Indiana that included a 44-yard scoring run ... Posted his fourth 100-yard game of the season with 131 yards against Northwestern, scoring two touchdowns ... Had a career-high seven receptions vs. Michigan ... Caught one touchdown and rushed for another against the Wolverines ... Returned three kickoffs for a total of 132 yards with one touchdown vs. Western Michigan ... Returned the game's opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, which tied the third-longest kickoff return in Memorial Stadium history ... His average of 44.0 yards per kick return vs. WMU was the second highest single-game performance in school history, while total of 132 yards tied the fourth highest single-game kickoff return yardage in school history ... Had three kickoff returns for 121 yards vs. Purdue the following week, which included a 72-yard kick return ... Is just the second player in school history, following Harold "Red" Grange, to record two career kickoff returns over 70 yards ... Set a UI opening-day record with 143 yards rushing vs. Florida A&M ... Rushed for two TDs vs. FAMU.
2005 Season 
Earned team award for Most Valuable Player for the second straight year ... Also named team captain for the 2005 season as voted by the team ... Led the team in rushing for the second straight year ... Recorded 664 yards rushing on 127 carries, scoring five touchdowns ... Also caught 28 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown ... Had the team's longest run from scrimmage on a 35-yard carry at Purdue ... Ranked 10th in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards, averaging 122.7 per game ... Averaged 23.0 yards per kickoff return to rank seventh in the league ... Finished the season ranked 13th on the all-time Illinois rushing list ... Rushed for 100 yards at Iowa on 15 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per rush, while also catching five passes for 28 yards ... Nearly reached 100 yards in the season finale as he finished with 97 yards and a touchdown ... Caught a career-long 52-yard pass at California ... Posted the third-longest kickoff return of his career with a 48-yarder against San Jose State ... Finished the game with over 200 all-purpose yards at Cal with 57 yards rushing, 59 yards receiving and 92 yards in kickoff returns ... Had seven games with over 100 all-purpose yards ... Scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime of Illinois' season opener against Rutgers.
2006 Season 
Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors ... Named team captain for the second straight year ... Also won team's Most Outstanding Back Award ... Led team in rushing for the third consecutive year ... Posted 755 yards on 131 carries for a 5.8 average per carry ... Recorded 105 yards against Purdue, scoring one touchdown and also running for a season long 62 yards on one rush ... Averaged 7.2 yards per carry with 8 rushes for 58 yards, including a 43-yarder vs. Ohio State ... Rushed for 126 yards and a TD on 22 carries against Indiana ... Rushed for 110 yards on 18 carries at Michigan State ... Rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against Eastern Illinois.
College Career Accolades and Statistics 
Broke the school record for career kickoff return yardage with 1,495 yards ... Ranks sixth on the Illini career rushing list with 2,545 yards ... Ranks second on the Illini career all-purpose yardage list with 4,451 ... Posted nine career 100-yard rushing games.
Professional career 
2007 Season 
Going undrafted in 2007 was not how Thomas had envisioned his entry into the NFL. Regardless, he knew that hard work and determination would be the key to his success. Thomas was competing with a fourth round draft pick for the final spot on the roster in an already heavy backfield which included Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush and Aaron Stecker. After showing star potential in the preseason, Pierre became one of only two rookie free agents to make opening day roster. Quickly becoming a fan favorite as a kick returner, Pierre was anxious to get his shot at running back. And he would, making his first career start on December 30, in his home town of Chicago against the Bears – one of the most feared and respected defenses in the league. On a cold and windy night, with temperatures below freezing, Pierre would run for arguably one of the best performances of his career in front of his family and friends. He had 20 carries for 105 yards and caught 12 passes for 121 yards with an 11 yard touchdown, becoming the first player in New Orleans Saints history to gain more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game. Pierre’s 226 total yards from scrimmage inked him into the record books as third-highest total in team history. Through this gutsy performance with two cracked ribs, Thomas earned himself more carries for the following season.
2008 season 
In 2008, Thomas led the Saints in rushing with 625 yards on 129 carries - averaging 4.8 yards per carry and nine touchdowns. He also finished seventh with 31 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns and led the team with 31 kickoff returns for 793 yards. Thomas led the team in scoring with 72 points. To some, the 2008 season was a disappointing one. The team battled injuries, the life of a football warrior. Pierre however, viewed the season as a great learning experience.
2009 season 
Thomas started six games, playing in fourteen, leading the team with a career-best 793 yards on 147 rushing attempts – averaging 5.4 yard per carry with six touchdowns and also caught 39 passes for 302 yards with two touchdowns. The Saints jumped out to an impressive 13-0 start before losing the final three games of regular season. Locking in a bye for the first round of playoffs proved highly beneficial as the team was “dinged up” from a hard fought regular season. Thomas had bruised/cracked ribs. In the NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, Thomas carried the ball 14 times for 61 yards along with two catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns – a 38 yard reception on a screen pass and a nine yard run from scrimmage. He was a key factor in the game-winning field goal drive in overtime. Thomas set up the drive with a 40 yard kickoff return followed by converting on a key fourth-and-one with a “Walter Paytonesque” leap over the top for 2 yards. The Saints played and defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. Thomas carried the ball nine times for 30 yards and caught six passes for 55 yards with a 16 yard touchdown on a screen pass in the third quarter to give the Saints their first ever Super Bowl touchdown and their first lead en route to a Super Bowl XLIV Championship win.
2010 season 
Thomas started in one game, playing in three and gaining 146 yards on 46 rushing attempts – averaging 3.2 yards per carry with a long of twelve. He earned one touchdown and also caught 17 passes for 133 yards with an average of 7.8 and a long of 23, and no touchdowns. The reigning Super Bowl-winning Saints started the season 4-3 with a Halloween Night match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He injured his ankle in game three against the Atlanta Falcons.
2011 season 
Pierre Thomas returned for the 2011 season with the Saints as part of the Saints' group of running backs. During a game against the Indianapolis Colts on October 23, Pierre Thomas for 57 yards on 10 carries and caught 5 receptions for 68 yards, including a 57-yard screen pass that brought the Saints offense at the Colts 3-yard line, almost giving him and the Saints a touchdown. He finished with 125 yards of total offense, but no touchdowns. 
- Pro Football Reference - New Orleans Saints Franchise Encyclopedia Retrieved September 6, 2012.
- Triplett, Mike (2010-02-06). "New Orleans Saints' Pierre Thomas has plenty to smile about". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- "Pierre Thomas". The Fighting Illini. 2009-02-06. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- Totalfootballstats.com. "2003 Illinois Fighting Illini". Totalfootballstats.com. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- Totalfootballstats.com. "2004 Illinois Fighting Illini". Totalfootballstats.com. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- Total Football Stats. "2005 Illinois Fighting Illini". Totalfootballstats.com. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
- Total Football Stats. "2006 Illinois Fighting Illini". Totalfootballstats.com. Retrieved March 30, 2013.