Lexington Thomas

RB / UNLV

When Ohio State plays Nevada-Las Vegas on Saturday, the Buckeyes will have to be zeroed in on keeping up with running back Lexington Thomas.

One reason is because he is the Rebels’ leading rusher. Another is because, well, he sometimes can be hard to find.

“He’s a quick, shifty guy,” Ohio State safety Erick Smith said. “He about 5-8, a buck 70 (170 pounds), but he’s shifty and he has legit speed.”

In their previous game Sept. 9, Thomas threw his weight and his speed around in a 44-16 win at Idaho, a bounce back from the stunning season-opening loss to Howard, a Football Championship Subdivision school. He had 190 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown sprints of 62 and 60 yards.

While it’s natural to focus on Thomas’s “legit speed,” the junior from Houston, with 341 yards and five touchdowns through two games, is UNLV’s top back for more than that.

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“Because I’m fast, everybody says I’m a speed back,” Thomas told the Las Vegas Sun. “But I see myself more as a one-cut back. I can play between the tackles. That’s where most of my touchdowns come, in between the tackles and guards.”

With previous co-starter Charles Williams out because of an ankle injury, Thomas must shoulder the load. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez believes he is capable.

“Lexington is by far the shiftiest of our group,” Sanchez said. “Lexington can manipulate his styles. He can go in and out, he can be the slasher, he can go straight ahead, he can be the shake-and-bake guy. He’s kind of a dual threat.”

The challenge for the Ohio State defense will be keeping an eye on Thomas while also dealing with the dual-threat capability of quarterback Armani Rogers and receiver Devonte Boyd. The latter two set a UNLV record with a 94-yard touchdown pass against Idaho. Also, Boyd moved into second place on the UNLV career receiving yards list with 2,838 (the school record us 3,495 by Ryan Wolfe).

“They have three legit threats that we’re worrying about,” Smith said.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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