Competition for playing time in the Bulldogs’ backfield just got a little more fierce.

In the scramble to find serviceable backups for All-American Mike McLeod ’09, one of the gems of the incoming freshman class, Alex Thomas ’12, has thrown his hat in the ring and has the potential to step up and be a big factor in the offense for years to come.

At Ansonia High School in Ansonia, Conn. — just 11 miles from New Haven — Thomas set state high school records for career rushing yards (8,279), touchdowns (114) and points (747). Local star McLeod also attended high school in Connecticut.

His career included one game with 518 yards and seven touchdowns, one of the many impressive performances that led to his early removal from games, per Connecticut’s mercy rule. A video featuring a collection of his 2006 highlights has totaled more than 13,000 hits on YouTube.

Thomas’ teams put together two consecutive 13-0 seasons, culminating in Class S championships in 2006 and 2007.

Despite being Connecticut’s Gatorade and Coca-Cola offensive player of the year and a three-time first-team All-State selection, Thomas finds himself behind at least two experienced tailbacks on the Eli depth chart.

“I’m trying to be the best player I can be,” Thomas said when asked about his role. “I haven’t heard much about how much playing time I’ll get. I just try and contribute in any way that I can.”

Thomas mixes speed, elusiveness and balance with power, a combination that potentially makes him a legitimate compliment to McLeod.

But would he say that he’s the heir apparent?

“I’m just trying to play my own game, be my own player,” he said.