NCF On The Trail: Justin Thornton

Best SEC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
8:00
PM ET
video
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
8/09/13
11:00
AM ET
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.
AUBURN, Ala. -- "It’s a new day."

You see it on billboards as you drive to Auburn University. You see it on posters hung up all over campus. You see it around the football complex, reminding not just the fans and the community, but the players, too. It’s a new day for Auburn football.

Last season, the Tigers finished a woeful 3-9 and didn’t win a single conference game for the first time in over 20 years. There were off-the-field incidents and speculation that certain players gave up midway through the season. It came as no surprise when they let go head coach Gene Chizik and his entire coaching staff just two years removed from a national championship.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Weekly commitment roundup

May, 17, 2013
5/17/13
11:40
AM ET
ACC
Duke
Zach Harmon OG Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic
HT: 6-foot-4 WT: 275 pounds
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Kerrion Moore RB Gastonia, N.C./Hunter Huss
HT: 5-8 WT: 180
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Chris Taylor WR Coconut Creek, Fla./North Broward Prep
HT: 6-0 WT: 168
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Miami
Brad Kaaya QB-PP West Hill, Calif./Chaminade College Prep
HT: 6-4 WT: 213
Position Rank: #12 QB-PP
Stars: 4

NC State
Coult Culler OLB Wilmington, N.C./E.A. Laney
HT: 6-4 WT: 225
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jalan McClendon QB-PP Charlotte, N.C./West Mecklenburg
HT: 6-4 WT: 195
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big 12
Baylor
Jordan Feuerbacher TE-Y Kingwood, Texas/Kingwood Park
HT: 6-4 WT: 240
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Xavier Jones DE Magnolia, Texas/Magnolia West
HT: 6-3 WT: 200
Position Rank: #32 DE
Stars: 3

Iowa State
Sam Seonbuchner OLB Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead
HT: 6-2 WT: 223
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Kansas
Kyron Watson OLB East Saint Louis, Ill./East Saint Louis
HT: 6-1 WT: 210
Position Rank: #4 OLB
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (#100)

Oklahoma
Marcus Green CB Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill
HT: 6-1 WT: 176
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big East
Louisville
Isaiah Ford WR Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
HT: 6-1 WT: 161
Position Rank: #34 WR
Stars: 4

George Rushing WR Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons
HT: 6-0 WT: 182
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Rutgers
Justin Herron OG Potomac, Md./Bullis School
HT: 6-4 WT: 275
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Michigan State
Chris Frey Jr. OLB Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington
HT: 6-2 WT: 214
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Matt Sokol ATH Rochester Hills, Mich./Adams
HT: 6-5 WT: 225
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Northwestern
Blake Hance TE-Y Jacksonville, Ill./Jacksonville
HT: 6-6 WT: 260
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Justin Jackson RB Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Position Rank: #32 RB
Stars: 4

Ohio State
Lonnie Johnson WR Gary, Ind./West Side
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Position Rank: #41 WR
Stars: 4

Penn State
Marcus Allen S Upper Marlboro, Md./Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr.
HT: 6-2 WT: 190
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jared Wangler OLB Warren, Mich./De La Salle Collegiate
HT: 6-2 WT: 218
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Wisconsin
Billy Hirschfeld DE Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead
HT: 6-6 WT: 267
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Ula Tolutau ATH Salt Lake City, Utah/East
HT: 6-1 WT: 225
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Pac-12
UCLA
Dionte Sykes WR Chandler, Ariz./Chandler
HT: 6-2 WT: 205
Position Rank: #49 WR
Stars: 3

Utah
Raelon Singleton WR Crosby, Texas/Crosby
HT: 6-4 WT: 185
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington
Chase Blakely DE Coeur D'Alene, Idaho/Coeur D'Alene
HT: 6-4 WT: 221
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington State
Greg Hoyd OLB Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta
HT: 6-1 WT: 191
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Auburn
Derrick Moncrief S Prattville, Ala./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
HT: 6-3 WT: 226
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Justin Thornton DE Prichard, Ala./Vigor
HT: 6-5 WT: 225
Position Rank: #13 DE
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (#111)

Kentucky
Drew Barker QB-PP Hebron, Ky./Conner Senior
HT: 6-4 WT: 205
Position Rank: #7 QB-PP
Stars: 4
ESPN 150 (#141)

Kobie Walker S Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel
HT: 6-3 WT: 188
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

LSU
D'haquille Williams WR Laplace, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC
HT: 6-3 WT: 210
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Missouri
Michael Fairchild OT Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley West
HT: 6-6 WT: 270
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Finis Stribling IV CB Thompson's Station, Tenn./Independence
HT: 5-11 WT: 167
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Mississippi State
Dontavian Lee RB Brooklyn, Miss./Forest County Agriculture
HT: 6-0 WT: 205
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Vanderbilt
Montez Sweat TE-Y Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson
HT: 6-6 WT: 225
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending
The Auburn Tigers remained hot on the trail with the addition of ESPN 150 defensive end Justin Thornton. Our scouts believe Thornton will help bolster Auburn in the trenches.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

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.”


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Official Visit: Thomas’ trouble; AU heats up

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
10:34
AM ET

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.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Watch List defensive end Justin Thornton (Prichard, Ala./Vigor) might have arrived late to Florida's junior day on Saturday, but the talented defender called his trip to Gainesville a dream visit.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete visited Florida for its junior day and came away impressed.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

USC has not been shy about its pursuit of some of the top 2014 prospects in the state of Alabama. The Trojans have already offered ESPN Watch List juniors Ronnie Clark, Justin Thornton and Tre Williams, and you can add another one to the list.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider



With members of the 2013 class already having faxed in their letters of intent, the focus turns to the Class of 2014. Here are five top juniors the Seminoles will place a priority on for the next cycle:

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Watch List DE ready for FSU trip 

January, 29, 2013
1/29/13
7:00
AM ET
Florida State's upcoming official visitor list looks light -- just one 2013 prospect, in fact -- but that doesn't mean important underclassmen won't be on campus.

ESPN Watch List defensive end Justin Thornton (Prichard, Ala./Vigor), a top junior, will make the drive over to Tallahassee.

"It will be my first time going up there," he said. "I am just looking for a good coaching staff, good academics all the way around and a good environment because I want to be at a place where it is great to be there. I want to go to a school in Florida because it is just one of the main places I want to stay at. I like it there and it isn't far from home."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES