Mutual Love

With the way Notre Dame has been showing Carlton Thomas the love since offering him a scholarship back in March, the four-star running back from Frostproof, Fla. decided to show some affection in return. When recently listing his top five, Thomas said Notre Dame and another school are his current leaders, not wanting to offend the four other programs in the running for his services.

"I just wanted to let them know that they're still up there," Carlton Thomas said. West Virginia, Auburn, Clemson and Georgia are the other four schools he is looking at.

Irish assistant coach Bernie Parmalee and Thomas have been in regular contact since March. Head coach Charlie Weis keeps in touch now and then, recently with emails letting Thomas know how Notre Dame's fall camp is going and that they still want him. They've dropped by his school and been in contact with head coach Brad Metheny.

Last season, the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Thomas ran for 2,283 yards and 25 touchdowns, edging out Florida signee, and one of the nation's best running backs Chris Rainey for most yards rushing in Polk County. The elusive Thomas averaged 231 yards rushing per game, even though Metheny had to call the dogs off by the fourth quarter in half the team's games. Frostproof finished 7-3, just missing the state playoffs.

Thomas hit the weights real hard this summer, raising his bench press to 330 pounds, and his squat to 450 pounds. He also tried to become more of a team leader with his final prep season on the horizon.

"I have a lot of experience I can give to my teammates, and I've been giving more encouragement," Thomas said.

Recently, Thomas took a call from a national recruiting analyst. He was asking him about Notre Dame, and told him that Weis could be bringing in the nation's No. 1 ranked recruiting class. Thomas got online and checked it out for himself.

Thomas talks a lot about the vision Weis has at Notre Dame and how the Irish coach explains it to him. That's what has Notre Dame listed so high on his list. With the possibility of the Irish having the country's top-ranked recruiting class, Thomas saw a lot of evidence right there.

"It's very important to me," Thomas said of where a school's recruiting class ranks. "I'm just real happy and appreciative of them looking at me, giving me that exposure and looking at me that highly."

When Thomas will get a chance to look at Notre Dame for the first time is still up in the air. He now thinks that the Sept. 1 season opener against Georgia Tech could be a good time, but he has to sit down with his coaches and family before setting it in stone.

Thomas also plans to take an official visit to West Virginia. He has been to the other three schools listed in his top five. Top Stories