Little Rock Central junior standout Kevin Thornton got to Fayettevillle Saturday just in time to see a few big hits passed out by Razorback defenders in Arkansas' Red-White football game.
That's something the 6-2, 190-pound free safety might just be doing one day as a big-hitting Razorback himself if he decides to follow in the tradition set by former UA standouts Steve Atwater, Kenoy Kennedy and Ken Hamlin - all who have taken their act on to the NFL.
"I take a lot of pride in my hitting ability," Thornton said. "I want you to know that if you are coming my way, you are going to be taken out. It's pretty much that simple. I think it would be an honor to follow in those guys footsteps if that's what I decide to do."
Thornton, ranked as the top defender and the second best overall prospect in the state in The Morning News/Hawgs Illustrated Top 30 college prospects poll, can not only bring the lumber but is a complete player according to Central head coach Bernie Cox.
"Not only has he shown the ability to hit you and hit you hard, but his coverage skills and his knowledge of the game are also outstanding," Cox said. "He's about as good as they get, but like everyone else he is still developing and will become a better player as time goes on."
Thornton, who has been timed as low as 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, made both of Arkansas' Junior Days and makes no secret that the Razorbacks are at the top of a list that also includes Iowa, Illinois, Alabama and Mississippi State right now.
"I love Arkansas' coaches and I love getting up here and getting to talk to them and getting to know them well," Thornton said. "That's why I try to get up here as much as I can and get familiar with everything so that will help me make the best decision."
Thornton had 11 interceptions as a junior and 82 tackles and was a star in his team's 28-17 state championship game win over West Memphis at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
He already has an offer from Arkansas, has already passed the ACT with a 21 and sports a 3.0 grade point average so he is getting it done academically as well as athletically.
Thornton watched UA signee Fred Bledsoe go through an extended recruitment last season while taking it down to the final day and then announcing along with fellow Central star Freddie Fairchild that they were going to be Razorbacks.
"I plan on taking the same type route and really making sure I am making the right decision, but just not taking as long," Thornton said. "I will take all my visits, weight all my options, see how it goes and then make a decision. I won't just commit to Arkansas right away."
Thornton will be one of at least four and maybe five high D-I prospects at Central , who will try to repeat its Class AAAAA state title next season.
"It's going to take strong, strong defense again," Thornton said. "We have a lot of seniors coming back, but we are going to have to build up their confidence and get them some experience early on."
Thornton is one of several Central players who will be attending a Nike Camp at Texas A&M on May 1 instead of the FCA combine in Little Rock and he will also be at a couple of Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt's summer camps.
"I want to increase my speed and strength this summer," Thornton said. "I want to become the best player I can be and I plan on working hard to make sure that happens."
Central's Thornton gathering info
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