MANHATTAN — With a loss to Oklahoma still fresh in his mind, Daniel Thomas didn't feel like standing.
The junior running back had just gutted out 88 yards on 16 carries against one of the nation's best defensive fronts and, as he does in most games, also took direct snaps out of the wildcat formation and threw for 41 yards.
That kind of workload can wear on anyone, and Thomas is no different. Add a nagging shoulder injury into the equation and it was no surprise to see Thomas looking for a place to sit outside the visiting locker room while he fulfilled his media obligations.
"I just had to do what I could," said Thomas, softly when asked about his performance. "My shoulder, I was thinking a lot about my shoulder through the game. I have a lot of pain.... I feel pretty sore right now."
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Comments like that are nothing new from Thomas. The junior-college transfer has been in pain all season and has often been seen favoring his left shoulder after hard tackles.
But Thomas has never allowed that to get in the way of his game.
"He's a great player and a really tough guy," senior offensive lineman Nick Stringer said. "A lot of guys on this football team are leaning on him right now."
Indeed, through nine games, Thomas has rushed for 902 yards and a Big 12-best 10 touchdowns. He has emerged as one of the conference's best overall running backs and is the focal point of K-State's offense.
Coach Bill Snyder is never afraid to go to him, and because of that Thomas leads the Big 12 with 181 rushing attempts.
During all that playing time, Thomas — who was not at Tuesday's K-State news conference — has been hit and tackled hard. But even though he's not afraid to talk about the injuries that come out of those hits, he's always begging for the next handoff.
Following a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette, Thomas complained that he ran the ball just 27 times. He's always looking for more touches, no matter the situation.
"He's taken some shots this year," offensive lineman Wade Weibert said. "There have been a couple times when I'm like, 'Oh man, I hope he gets up.' But he keeps getting up. He's a tough runner and he's a fun guy to have back there."
Sophomore safety Tysyn Hartman says he's always viewed Thomas as a tough player. Hartman often asks around before games to see if his teammates plan on wearing long-sleeve shirts under their uniforms and the answer is always the same from Thomas.
"He'll be like, 'No, man. I don't like those, I'm good. I don't need long sleeves," Hartman said.
Stringer wouldn't think any less of Thomas if he did. In his book, Thomas has done more than enough to prove himself.
"His toughness," Stringer said, "is what's made him a good player."
Note — Kansas State officials said Tuesday that about 3,000 tickets remain available for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Kansas.