The Jacksonville State football program got another big addition on Monday, when running back Roc Thomas signed his financial aid agreement to join the Gamecocks.
Thomas, an Oxford native and transfer from Auburn, is the fourth FBS transfer that has joined the Gamecocks this summer. Former South Carolina cornerback Al Harris, Jr., former LSU wide receiver Kevin Spears and former East Carolina offensive lineman Darius Anderson have all enrolled and begun summer workouts with the Gamecocks.
Thomas rejoins his former high school coach at JSU. The 5-foot-10, 203-pound back played for JSU head coach John Grass at Oxford before Grass moved to JSU as the offensive coordinator in 2013. He steps in a position that JSU badly needs to rebuild depth after All-American and the Gamecocks' single-season rushing leader Troymaine Pope and back up Miles Jones graduated.
"Roc is a great addition for our team," Grass said on Monday afternoon. "We lost some key players at running back and it's really good to get him in and help shore up the depth at that position. He is a great player that is returning home. He was a 5-star running back that is an explosive player. He is familiar with our system after playing for me in high school, and I expect him to flourish in it here at JSU."
Thomas and senior Josh Clemons, a Kentucky transfer that was granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA this offseason. Clemons is JSU's returning leading rusher at the running back position after running for 405 yards and four touchdowns on 70 carries in 2015. Quarterback Eli Jenkins ran for 1,161 yards and 15 touchdowns, the most returning for JSU in 2016.
Thomas was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association's Mr. Football and the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year as a senior at Oxford High School. That season saw him rush for 2,211 yards, 32 touchdowns, averaging 9.8 yards per carry. He signed with the Tigers as the No. 2 running back in the nation by Rivals and was ranked in the top 5 at his position by Scout, 247sports and ESPN.
In two years at Auburn, he ran for 475 yards and three scores, while catching 17 passes for 227 yards. He had a 51-yard touchdown reception against the Gamecocks in 2015. He will have two years of eligibility remaining with JSU.
Harris also enjoyed success in the Southeastern Conference. The 5-foot-11, 154pound corner from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was an SEC All-Freshman Team pick in 2014, when he notched 21 tackles and broke up 21 passes. Over his two seasons at USC, he notched 46 tackles.
He played his prep career at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where he was rated a three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services. He also steps into a position needing added depth after 2015, when four of the five defensive backs that played the most snaps were seniors. Harris will have two years of eligibility remaining with the Gamecocks. Senior Jaylen Hill is JSU's lone returning starter at cornerback.
Spears saw action in 12 games for LSU during his three years in Baton Rouge. The New Orleans native was redshirted in 2013 after signing with the Tigers out of Holy Cross High School.
A 6-foot-2, 2017-pound receiver, Spears played just one season of high school football but made the most of his short time on the gridiron. He caught 60 passes for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was rated a four-star recruit by ESPN, who also listed him as one of the top 50 receivers in the nation.
Anderson is a 6-foot-3, 330-pound lineman from Jonesboro, Ga., where he prepped at Mundy's Mill High School before signing with East Carolina. He was an all-metro and all-region performer at MMHS and redshirted his first season with the Pirates.
"All of these guys will add depth for us at positions where we lost some significant players from last year's team," Grass added. "Al Harris and Kevin Spears are both very explosive players that have had success in the SEC and can help us immediately. And after losing a pair of guys on the offensive line, Darius Anderson helps us with depth up front."
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)