The momentum for the Auburn football program continued on Monday.
Two days after the greatest finish in Iron Bowl history, and ending that gave Auburn the SEC Western Division crown and kept alive their chances for a BCS Championship Game berth, the Tigers received good news on the recruiting trail.
Oxford (Ala.) Rivals100 running back Racean Thomas jumped 45 spots to No. 12 overall in the latest Rivals100 presented by Under Armour, earning five-star status.
Thomas is the second-ranked player in the state of Alabama and the highest ranked Auburn commitment.
Oxford High School coach Ryan Herring thinks Thomas' recognition is well-deserved.
"There was lots of hoopla around 'Roc' all season," Herring told AuburnSports.com. "He's committed to Auburn, and we had Southern Cal and Oregon flying in telling us he's the best running back in the country. It's been wild.
"He was the difference in our games. He's the one guy on the field that nobody could touch."
Thomas carried Oxford to a 9-3 record this fall, despite multiple injuries that severely limited his playing time during the first four games. Thomas played only two series in the opener, played sparingly during the second, third and fourth games with ankle and shoulder injuries.
From the fifth game on, Thomas was healthy and it showed. He finished the season rushing for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns on 226 carries, good for 9.8 yards per carry.
Against Spain Park in Oxford's tenth game, Thomas rushed for a career-high 414 yards and five touchdowns on 34 carries.
The new rankings place Thomas as the nation's third best back, behind Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon.
"The only person I've heard from college coaches, there's a guy in Louisiana (Fournette), that's a race for who's the best. I haven't seen that guy, but if he's better than 'Roc', I'd like to see it," said Herring.
Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell sees Thomas as the ideal fit within the Tigers' offense.
"He's going to be perfect for what Gus Malzahn does there," said Farrell of the Tigers pledge. "He's great in space, he hits the hole hard and he has big-play ability. His senior season was outstanding."
Southeast analyst Kynon Codrington agrees.
"Thomas earned the coveted fifth-star with his gutsy senior campaign coming off some nagging injuries that slowed him down over the spring and early summer," said Codrington. "His combination of power running and home run ability could give Malzahn a nice replacement for the departing Tre Mason."
Auburn now claims three five-star commitments. St. Paul's (Ala.) linebacker Tre Williams ranks No. 23 overall, and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College receiver D'haquille Williams ranks as the nation's top junior college wideout.
Other Auburn targets within the new Rivals100 are Hinesville (Ga.) five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (No. 19), West Palm Beach (Fla.) four-star receiver Travis Rudolph (No. 42) and Auburn (Ala.) four-star linebacker Rashaan Evans (No. 69).
Rudolph and McMillan have officially visited Auburn, and Evans plans an official visit in the future.
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