While 2014 NCAA Football recruit Racean "Roc" Thomas may have five teams from the SEC on his final six candidates, the Oregon Ducks could make a huge steal with the right pitch to the Alabama back.
Thomas, who is listed as the No. 3 overall running back by Scout.com, tweeted that Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Oregon, Georgia and Ole Miss are his current finalists. While he is only a junior in high school right now, the 5-star running back out of Alabama has gained a significant amount of interest from programs all across the nation. Recently, he has risen into the top 50 overall players on the recent Rivals 100 ranking after running for 1,500-plus yards two seasons in a row.
The 5’11” and 196-pound Thomas shows off exemplary speed, vision, balance, power and elusiveness in his highlight video, which has undeniably impressed the University of Oregon. With the help of recruiter Gary Campbell and a remarkable 4.62 40-yard dash time, Thomas received an offer from the program on March 11th. Later that week, he tweeted that he was considering going there.
"That's about the only school … out west I'm highly considering," said Thomas, according to Scout.com.
247Sports lists Oregon is his No. 4 overall school, behind only Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Thomas has received an offer from all four of those schools, but has yet to hear from Georgia and Ole Miss.
“I don’t really have a top school or any favorites anymore,” said Thomas, according to 247Sports.com.
While most of the schools that Thomas is looking at are in the SEC, Thomas admits that staying close to home is not as important as feeling as if he were at home when at the school. With the right persuasion, he could see himself being convinced to go anywhere.
“Somewhere that I feel at home whenever I go,” said Thomas (via 247Sports), when asked how he will choose his school after opening his recruitment nationally. “How the coaches treat me and the things they do for me. Just the home feeling and coaches that will be there for me.”
Recruiting for the 2014 season is far from the minds of many Oregon fans. Head coach Mark Helfrich has yet to call one game for the team, and the university has only received one commit thus far: 4-star linebacker Jordan Hoiem from Hawaii. In comparison to programs in the SEC such as LSU and Ole Miss (seven recruits each), Oregon is a little late to the game.
At this point, however, Thomas is considered to be the running back on the Oregon Ducks' watch list.
For Oregon, who may even consider Thomas to be their top overall player on their board based on their interest in him thus far, stealing the Alabama running back would be one of the most impressive moves of their decade. More notably, if Helfrich were to secure Thomas, all doubters in his recruiting ability would be quickly vanished.
Many on Twitter and on blogs around the Internet argue that the Oregon Ducks have more of a fighting chance than initially expected, and the offer was considered to be "huge" for Racean.
“Racean does not care about the depth chart,” said father Frank Thomas, who believes his son will end up at Alabama, LSU or Oregon. “I think he should pay more attention to it, but he believes he is a hard worker and is not caught up in playing his first year.” (via Alabamaintel.com)
This comes as good news for Oregon, as rising junior Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas will be a senior (or in the NFL) by the time Racean Thomas would arrive in Eugene. If Racean were to redshirt, his freshman year would provide an incredible tandem running back core with rising freshman Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall. The depth chart is not a concern to Thomas when it comes to Oregon due to the fact that he appreciates “how often” the program runs the ball.
While the Alabama Crimson Tide may be on his radar (he grew up a fan of the hometown heroes), the team's running back depth may still be enough to convince him to look elsewhere.
Oregon has been appropriately aggressive in the early offer to Thomas thus far, and now the hard work begins: convincing him to leave his home state and the SEC for the west coast. If the Oregon Ducks would be able to pull off this particular heist, it would be one of the most thrilling steals in Pac-12 history.
Thomas, who plans to visit the Eugene campus in May, will work with running back coach Gary Campbell.