Big Prize Comes In a Small Package

Auburn is one of the schools hot on the trail of this running back from Central Florida.

Frostproof, Fla.--Running back Carlton Thomas may not be the biggest but his speed, talent and determination more than make up for what he's missing in terms of size and make him one of Florida's best prospects for 2008.

At 5-7 1/2, 175, Thomas may be smaller than most Division I tailbacks, but it hasn't kept some of the top programs in the country from extending offers after seeing him on film and in person this spring.

Auburn, Notre Dame, Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas are just some of the colleges that offered Thomas early in the process and things haven't hinted at slowing down since then as schools continue to pour through Frostproof, the same school that produced Travis Henry. Thomas says it has been busy but fun at the same time.

"It has kind of been a little hectic, but it doesn't really bother me," Thomas tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I don't get all into like that. I'm up to 15 offers at the moment with the last few coming from Rutgers, USC and Clemson. I don't really have a favorite group yet. I haven't narrowed it down. I'm hoping to get there by the middle of the summer."

While he doesn't have a leader, there is one school that has continuously shown up on Thomas' list and that is Auburn. Known for producing running backs to the NFL with names such as Rudi Johnson, Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Heath Evans and Kenny Irons in just the last seven years alone, the Tigers run the football and do it well. Thomas says for a running back that is something that makes Auburn exciting.

"I know it's a very well known program, both football and educational," Thomas says. "They are a powerhouse in football. They are known for running the ball and they have put out some really good backs.

"I know that I want to be able to run that ball," he adds. "I want to be able to play my position. I know if I go there I'm going to get the ball in my hands and run the football. That puts them in a good spot."

Thomas and his teammates finished up spring practice last week with a game against Ridge Community. While the game didn't go as well as he had hoped, Thomas says it was a great learning experience for both himself and his teammates as they get ready for the 2007 season.

"Practice went good," Thomas says. "We had some good practices and learned a lot. We finished up with a game against Ridge Community. We lost 6-0, but we still had a lot of good points in the game. Our defense played very well. Offensively, we did good but the offensive line just needs a little more work. We had some holding calls and penalties."

A leader for Frostproof since taking over at tailback his sophomore season, Thomas is coming off one of the best seasons ever for a running back in Florida. As a junior he rushed for 2,283 yards and scored 25 touchdowns to lead the state in rushing for the regular season, edging out Lakeland standout Chris Rainey.

This time around Thomas says his goal is to do even more to help his team get to the playoffs after missing last year. Bigger and faster with a 10.7 second 100 meter time in the spring, Thomas says he's looking for big things in his senior year as he tries to emulate his idol and carry a team on his shoulders to the promised land.

"When people ask me who I run like I always says Barry Sanders," Thomas says. "For me to describe my game, I would say I'm a very versatile back. I can do anything and everything that any running back can do. I can beat you to the outside, I can hit you up the middle for some yardage, and I can also make you miss and outrun you. I feel like I can do it all."

Thomas says he plans to take several visits over the summer to check out some of his favorite schools before making a decision. While many are still up in the air, he says one trip is set in stone and he can't wait to get on the road and see what's in store for him on the Plains.

"I have already made plans to go to the Auburn camp on June 9 and 10," Thomas says. "That's definitely one of my camps I want to go to. I'm not sure of any others at the moment. I don't really know where I want to go but for sure I'm going to the Auburn camp."


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