By Matthew Asher
Thomas DeCoud, S #28
Weight: 193 lbs.
College: California (UC Berkeley)
Experience: 5th year
The safety position in the NFL can often be considered the defensive equivalent of the fullback; nobody really notices either position unless either is doing really bad in a game. Unlike a cornerback’s role of covering either a receiver or an area of the field, a safety’s main job is to provide support and coverage for the rest of the defense. For the Falcons, Thomas DeCoud may not be making headlines, but he has done his job in helping the Falcons climb atop the NFC this season.
Growing up in California, DeCoud first attended Hogan Senior High in Vallejo, CA before transferring to Pinole Valley High in Pinole, CA. While attending Pinole Valley, Thomas lettered in both football and basketball. In both his junior and senior years in high school, DeCoud was selected to the All-Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League (All-ACCAL) team both for football and basketball.
In his senior All-ACCAL selection, DeCoud had impressive stats on both sides of the football field. As a wide receiver, DeCoud picked up 600 passing yards on 23 catches. On the defensive side of the ball, Thomas racked up 80 tackles and two interceptions. Upon graduating high school in 2003, DeCoud attended UC Berkeley.
As a member of the Cal Golden Bears football team, DeCoud played in 45 games and started in 16 of them. His first start wouldn’t come until midway into his junior year, but as soon as he became a starter, his statistics dramatically improved.
In those two final college seasons, DeCoud started in 16 of his 25 games picking up 91 of his 115 solo tackles and had his only collegiate interception. By the time DeCoud had graduated from Cal with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS), he totalled 198 tackles (115 solo), 1 sack, six blocked kicks and two forced and recovered fumbles.
As a senior, DeCoud was named as an All-Pac 10 honorable mention as the team’s defensive captain. That year DeCoud had 116 tackles (71 solo, the fourth most in the league that year) as he started in 12 of Cal’s 13 games.
While Cal started out the season 5-0 and ranked #2 in the country, the remainder of the season wasn’t as kind as the beginning. The Golden Bears lost six of their last seven regular season games. However, Cal finished off the season on a high note as they defeated the Air Force Falcons 42-36 in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl and finished the season 7-6.
The Atlanta Falcons selected DeCoud in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft with the 98th overall selection. DeCoud spent the majority of his rookie season on special teams. He played in 10 games, started none and finished the season with 6 tackles (5 solo).
His sophomore year was definitely a breakout year for Thomas. It would be the first of two straight seasons that DeCoud played and started in all 16 regular season games. He finished the year with 68 tackles (57 solo), 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 7 pass deflections and 3 interceptions. For his efforts in 2008, USA Today selected DeCoud as a member of its “All-Joe” team..
DeCoud’s production continued to improve each year. In 2010, Thomas recorded 74 tackles (56 solo) while in 2011, he set another career-high with 86 tackles (67 solo). The 2011 season also was the first time since his rookie season that DeCoud didn’t start every game of the season, missing just one.
While his tackling numbers may have slightly declined in the 2012 campaign, his interceptions have skyrocketed. DeCoud is currently on pace to record 73 tackles (58 solo), but he’s already picked off six.
If Thomas gets his seventh interception in either of the last two games of the season, he will double-up his career interception total this year alone. Which quarterbacks have thrown INT’s to DeCoud this year? Both Manning brothers, RGIII, Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers twice. Not a bad list of victims on a defensive résumé.
He may be all business on the field, but off of it, DeCoud definitely has a silly side. One of the more recent humourous instances with DeCoud happened during an episode of SportsCenter on September 27, 2012. DeCoud was doing a phone interview and unbeknownst to the SportsCenter anchor conducting the interview, DeCoud was playing the “Meow Game” (made famous by the movie Super Troopers.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.