Auburn has put together one of the country's best recruiting classes, with 5-star running back Roc Thomas being its headliner. From Oxford High School in Alabama, Thomas is a talented prospect who is a great fit for the Tigers' spread offense.
At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Thomas has solid quickness to reach the second level of the defense quickly from the backfield. He runs hard with good strength, which allows him to power past arm-tackles. Thomas has some short-area explosiveness to shoot up the field, plus he possesses impressive receiving skills in the passing game for a running back.
His highlight tape warrants an in-depth breakdown.
The opening play of Thomas' highlight tape features him catching a screen pass. Note how he runs with good force and strength, while also having a nice feel for using his blocks. Thomas does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield to see where his incoming threats are at all times.
The 5-star running back shows good speed in the open field, which helps him reach the end zone.
An impressive component to this play is Thomas' ability to not need to gather and waste steps behind the line of scrimmage to cut. Look at how he immediately attacks the hole toward the perimeter.
Most running backs would have decelerated and gathered themselves while cutting to shoot through the alley. However, Thomas fluidly surges upfield through the hole without wasting time.
He runs with adequate lean, but it would be nice to see him protect the ball better with both hands while in traffic. Thomas then shows off his toughness and power by running through a couple defenders on the second level before racing to the end zone.
Here's where Thomas displays terrific vision and instincts. He sees the attacking defender immediately after he gets the hand-off, evidenced by seeing how his head is up the entire time.
Thomas attacks the edge of the box, likely knowing what kind of move he was going to use to get past the defender. He uses a wicked and strong stiff-arm, then he finishes the run by getting some tough yards in traffic.
This is another basic screen play, but Thomas does something impressive here. Watch how quickly he gets his head around after catching the ball to quickly survey the field.
That's an instinctive thing to do, as it allows Thomas to process information and make some decisions in a flash. He sees where his blockers are and where defenders are coming from, then he executes a terrific post-catch run that finishes with him exhibiting good lateral agility and elusiveness.
It would have been nice to see Thomas be more patient on this play. He attacks the edge too quickly, whereas he could have pressed the hole more and seen the alley develop to his right.
However, his quickness allows him to get away with it. He spins away from one defender at the line of scrimmage, then shows off subtle elusiveness and tight-space quickness by eluding another.
Thomas shows a solid burst and good toughness at the end of this run.
This is a simple run from a pistol formation, as it shows Thomas getting to the edge of the box. Pressing the hole and being more patient behind the line of scrimmage would be more ideal here, but Thomas makes a solid decision to "run where they ain't".
At the end of the run, watch Thomas challenge the defender with strength and power to deliver a punishing blow to finish the play.
Here's a new video feature on Thomas that also compares him to a popular NFL running back. It also features some additional highlights of the future Auburn Tiger showing off his skills as a runner.
Thomas is one of the best players featured on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map!