LSU Tigers: Justin Thornton

Best SEC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

It's no secret that Southeastern Conference has been the top conference in the country as far as recruiting over the last several years. The league currently has six teams ranked in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings. Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters around the ultra-competitive conference.

SEC recruiting mailbag

August, 9, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN.

@cpage2911: who are the top SEC assistant coaches recruiting wise?

Derek Tyson: As evident by having 10 SEC schools ranked in the top 25 of the Recruiting Nation class rankings, the SEC is full of recruiting savvy coaches. The list is long and full of quality coaches, and I could make a case for a number of SEC coaches, but here's a glance at three coaches who stand out to me this year.

Auburn co-offensive coordinator Dameyune Craig is responsible for Auburn landing commits from five ESPN 300 members including Tre' Williams, Nicholas Ruffin, Justin Thornton, Kamryn Pettway and Stanton Truitt. Florida defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is the primary recruiter for four committed ESPN 300 prospects -- Dalvin Cook, Khairi Clark, J.C. Jackson and Duke Dawson. He is also the primary recruiter for ESPN 300 prospects Ermon Lane and Quincy Wilson, who the Gators have a shot of landing on Monday.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart continues to be an outstanding recruiter and has helped the Tide stand firm in the top five of the class rankings. Smart is the primary recruiter for ESPN 300 committed players Kalvaraz Bessent, Stephen Roberts, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Zach Whitley.

@SleeperAthletes: Out of all the #SEC states, which state is most heavily recruited?

DT: As far as sheer numbers, Florida is always one of the most heavily recruited areas in the country. In fact, 17 percent (52) of the prospects ranked in the ESPN 300 are from the state of Florida. Texas is the next state in SEC territory with 34 players on the ESPN 300 followed by Georgia with 29 players.

Louisiana might not have the total number of prospects as Florida, Texas and Georgia, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in quality. Three of the top 10 players in the country including the No. 1 overall prospect, Leonard Fournette, and eight of the top 50 players in the country are from Louisiana.

SECfan: Will an SEC team take home the recruiting championship again?

DT: Five of the top 10 recruiting classes are from the SEC including three -- Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia in the top five. When it's all said and done, though, I believe it will be a battle between Alabama and LSU. Alabama is at No. 2 while LSU is at No. 10, and with several key targets still available LSU could certainly jump to the top.

Louisiana natives and top 10 players including Fournette, Cameron Robinson and Speedy Noil are high on the Tigers. Linebacker Clifton Garrett, wide receivers Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre, safety Laurence Jones and defensive tackle Gerald Willis III are just some of the top prospects considering LSU and the Tigers could end up with a monster class. Alabama, however, is still very much in contention for both Fournette and Robinson which could quickly cement the Tide as the top overall class. Bottom line is, yes, I believe the SEC will land the No. 1 recruiting class for the third straight year.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- How does a pass from Brandon Harris to D'haquille Williams sound?

There's still a long way to go, but after last weekend, that combination became more of a possibility in LSU's future.


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It will be a Mother’s Day to remember for ESPN 150 defensive end Justin Thornton (Prichard, Ala./Vigor), who committed to Auburn on Sunday over the likes of LSU and Texas A&M. He becomes commitment No. 7 for the Tigers.

“It’s like a big, happy family down there,” Thornton said. “Every school is a great school. All the schools I’ve been to have great things going on, but I just felt like Auburn was the best fit for me at this moment in time.”

Thornton made the decision at his church in front his family, specifically in front of his mother.

“It was just to make my mom proud,” he said. “I know it’s a special day for her. I know I made her proud, my grandmother proud and my other grandma proud.”

At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Thornton is an imposing presence on the football field. He has the look of a prototypical pass rusher at the next level, but Vigor head coach Ashley Johnson believes he’s more than that.

“He’s a very disciplined player,” Johnson said. “He’s just not a pass rusher, a guy coming off the edge using talent only. He’s a good technician. He’s learned a lot of football. He understands how to read lineman, how to play traps, how to play the run game well. I think he’s a fairly complete player for his age.”

Thornton joins high school teammate Deshaun Davis in Auburn’s 2014 class. The Tigers also landed a commitment from ESPN 150 linebacker Tre Williams, another Mobile, Ala., prospect, earlier in the week.

“I already know coaches up there from Mobile, but to know people on the field, going to war with me every Saturday, that’s big,” Thornton said. “Tre and Deshaun, they’re both great players and I will enjoy the next three or four years, playing on the field with them.”

Of Auburn’s seven commitments, five are from the state of Alabama and four come from the Mobile area where AU assistant coach Dameyune Craig serves as the lead recruiter.

The future is beginning to look bright for the Tigers.

“Hopefully, we’re going to have the No. 1 class, and other teams better watch out because Auburn’s back on the rise,” Thornton said.

The Vigor star will visit Auburn later in the month for its Big Cat Weekend.

PRICHARD, Ala. -- When it came time to make a decision, Vigor defensive end Justin Thornton was having second thoughts. The ESPN 150 prospect considered pushing his announcement back to the original date in August.

However, he told Recruiting Nation on Thursday that he’s ready to go through with it and plans to announce his decision at 10 a.m. CT Sunday at his church.

“I just want to close to the door,” Thornton said. “There’s a lot on me. I’m going through it for the first time, and I don’t know how to deal with it. I took my visits and I liked everything I saw. If I commit, I can focus more on my grades.”

“I’ve kind of let it get to my head, but I’m going to change that and get to my old ways.”


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Official Visit: Thomas’ trouble; AU heats up

May, 8, 2013
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NoleNation’s Corey Dowlar talks with Phil Murphy about the latest in Florida State 2013 signee Matthew Thomas' saga, and TideNation's Greg Ostendorf stops by to talk about the impending decisions of ESPN 150 recruits Tre’ Williams and Justin Thornton.

LSU enters Ronnie Clark sweepstakes 

April, 29, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When LSU reached out to offer ESPN 150 athlete Ronnie Clark of Calera, Ala., last week, the Tigers weren't exactly expanding their recruiting base for him.


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GTN recruiting mailbag: Alabama targets? 

April, 12, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney took your LSU recruiting questions:

Henry (Montgomery, AL): Gary, are there any Alabama recruits catching LSU's attention? I f not may I suggest one name? Taylor Stallworth.


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