Bluechip Back a Long Way from Decision

Tailback Carlton Thomas of Frostproof, Fla., High School talks recruiting with Inside the Auburn Tigers and is shown in game action.

Frostproof, Fla.--Four-star tailback prospect Carlton Thomas is one of the most electrifying prospects in the country for the class of 2008

With very quick feet and hips plus breakaway speed, Thomas has scholarship offers from 17 of the top programs in the country following a junior season in which he ran for 2,283 yards and 25 touchdowns.

"I'm looking at Notre Dame, Auburn, Iowa, West Virginia--I'm looking at all of the schools that have offered me a scholarship really," Thomas explains. "I'm just trying to get some information on them. I don't want to put out a top five or anything because I don't have enough information on all these schools to make a top five."

Carlton Thomas

Thomas hasn't been to any combines or camps this summer, but he says he'll start to trim the list fairly soon.

"I've just been working out and working, really," Thomas says. "I'm supposed to be taking a couple of unofficial visits, but I don't know when I'm going to be taking them. I'm going to take some unofficial visits so I can narrow it down to the main ones I really want to go to. I'll probably take a lot of my unofficials to some of the close schools around here, then I'll take my official visits to the schools far away."

Without a childhood favorite, it's a wide-open race for Thomas' signature. So what will be the determining factors?

"The education, the competitiveness of the school in the BCS, the team aspect and who everyone has on the team and playing time," Thomas says.

At 5-7 1/2 and 175 pounds, Thomas says he's working on his pass blocking to hopefully make a run at the Florida Class 2B Championship as a senior in 2007.

One of the top schools on his list, Auburn, has a history of putting its running backs in the NFL. The last four every down backs--Rudi Johnson (2000), Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown (2001-2004) and Kenny Irons (2005-2006)--have been drafted in the first four rounds by the NFL. Before Tommy Tuberville and his staff came to Auburn from Ole Miss in 1999, Tuberville and running backs coach Eddie Gran also produced Deuce McAllister (1st round) and John Avery (1st round), a player with a similar running style to Thomas.

"Coach (Greg) Knox is recruiting me," he notes, "but I've been on contact with Coach Gran."

Thomas, tougher and faster than his size would indicate, has tremendous quickness and compares his running style to his favorite player growing up.

"Barry Sanders is my all-time favorite back since I was young," Thomas explains. "I feel like I'm just a complete player and I can do anything to give the offense and edge on the defense. I can go out on pass routes and I can give mismatches. I can run the ball on the outside or up the middle--wherever they need me. I just feel like I'm real versatile and I present mismatches."

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