The rise that Devin Thomas has made in the past year or so has been described by some draft experts as "meteoric."
As we now know, Thomas didn't develop into a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. In fact, no wide receiver did.
But Thomas, selected by the Redskins early Saturday evening with the 34th overall pick, is regarded as a promising player who showed dramatic improvement throughout his college career at Michigan State.
"He has speed, size, and the ability to pick up yards after the catch," head coach Jim Zorn said. "Devin's a young player with a lot of upside. This is a young player with a lot of athleticism. It'll be up to us to get it out of him."
In 2007, Thomas, a 6-1, 218-pounder, caught 79 passes for 1,260 yards and eight TDs. Along the way, he established himself as one of the strongest receivers in college football.
Early in the season, Thomas was an unknown quantity, just trying to make an impact.
He did, and his stock has risen in NFL circles in recent months, to the point where some draft experts had Thomas tabbed as a first-rounder.
"It's been a long journey for me," he said from Miami, where he was hosting a draft party for 20 members of his family. "First I had to go the junior college route, to work on my grades. Then Michigan State. Now this. It's unbelievable."
Ultimately, Thomas decided to skip his senior season at Michigan State after his exceptional junior year.
Thomas, 6-2 and 225 pounds, set a single-season school record last year with 79 receptions for 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns.
Thomas also set a single-season Big Ten record with 1,135 yards on kickoff returns.
Then he impressed scouts at the NFL combine, where he ran some of the fastest 40-yard dash times among receivers.
"I think I am a dynamic player and a guy that will work hard for the team," he said. "I feel like I'm a bigger receiver, so I definitely use my body when it comes to going for jump balls and shielding defenders from the ball.:
Thomas attended Ann Arbor Huron and Canton (Mich.) high schools, then wound up at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas before getting into major college football at East Lansing.
"As far as the Redskins, it's really uncharted waters for me," he acknowledges. "I know some things about the organization, but not a whole lot. I'll have to get familiar in a hurry. The Redskins drafted me to do a job. I'll work hard to do it."
He was never one of those highly-publicized college players. Then came his junior year at Michigan State, which catapulted him into the plans as Zorn installs his version of the West Coast look.
By his own admission, Thomas says, how he's regarded as a football player has increased drastically in such a hurry.
The Redskins are hoping there's plenty more that will appear on his resume in a very short time.