Like most of the country's top prospects, Thornton (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) hopes to play early and figures the chance for that at Arkansas is greater than at a lot of the other schools recruiting him.
"I'm preparing myself to come in next year, contribute early and compete for a starting position," Thornton said. "If I decide to stay home and play at Arkansas, I feel like I'll have the opportunity to play early."
Thornton sprained his ankle last month against Bryant and made his return Thursday night against Little Rock Hall. The injury contributed to the defending Class AAAAA champion Tigers suffering their first loss since 2002.
"It was tough watching our streak come to an end, but we've put that one behind us," Thornton said. "Being the defending state champs, everyone's going to play their best against us, so we have to be prepared every week."
Thornton is being recruited by Arkansas assistant coach Danny Nutt, a graduate of Central High.
"We talked on the phone (Wednesday) night and he was mainly calling to check on my ankle," Thornton said. "It was nice of him to call and check on me and be concerned. That's what I like about him."
Thornton also has Alabama, North Carolina, Ole Miss and Tennessee involved in his recruitment.
"Arkansas is still the only scholarship offer so far," Thornton said. "I've decided to wait until the season is over to start setting up any official visits. I'll probably take all my visits before making a decision."
Thornton has 4 interceptions this season and is widely considered the top defensive back to come out of Arkansas in some time. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and bench presses 245 pounds.
He's ranked the No. 3 college prospect in Arkansas by The Morning News, behind fellow Arkansas recruits Darren McFadden of Pulaski Oak Grove and Slick Shelley of Fort Smith Southside.
"I grew up with McFadden. We use to live in the same neighborhood and we always played kill the man," Thornton said. "Slick and I use to play on the same AAU basketball team (the Arkansas Hawks) when we where 14 years old."
Bonner Eyes Options
Fayetteville High linebacker Mark Bonner remains undecided on his future, but one thing is for sure -- his aspirations of continuing his football career after this season.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play Division I football." Bonner said. "If that doesn't happen, then I've still got plans to play at some level."
Bonner's dream may become a reality. He's drawing interest from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Arkansas Tech, Central Arkansas, Kansas State and Tulsa.
Already he has taken unofficial visits to Arkansas and Tulsa and plans for an unofficial trip this weekend to Central Arkansas.
"Arkansas has invited me to walk on, which would be great," Bonner said. "I've been here my whole life and it's spoiled me because Arkansas is big-time.
"It's going to be a tough decision. I'm just going to have to sit down with my parents and decide what's best for me."
Bonner is having another banner season for the Bulldogs, with two interceptions including one on a pitch against Pine Bluff earlier this season that resulted in a 45-yard touchdown return.
He projects as an outside linebacker/strong safety in college.
"It doesn't matter to me where the coaches play me as long as I can contribute to the success of the team," Bonner said.
While attending the Houston Nutt football camp last summer, Bonner received the outstanding outside linebacker award along with Arkansas recruit Ben Owens Jr. of Bearden.
"It lets me know that the Arkansas coaches took notice of my hard work." Bonner said.
Bonner is ranked the No. 29 college prospect by The Morning News.
BRETT BRADLEY COVERS RECRUITING FOR THE MORNING NEWS. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH FRIDAY.
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