4-Star End Justin Thornton Chooses Auburn

Four-star defensive end Justin Thornton announced his decision Sunday morning at his church in Prichard and said he will play college football at Auburn.

Prichard, Ala.—Auburn continued a mammoth week on the recruiting trail by adding a commitment from talented defensive end Justin Thornton on Sunday morning.

A four-star prospect and the number nine ranked defensive end in the country for the 2014 class, according to Scout.com, Thornton had offers from all over the country before choosing the Tigers over LSU and Texas A&M.

"Auburn is a great place," Thornton said in explaining his decision to play for the Tigers. "Everybody up there is like one big family."

Thornton made the announcement at his church. When he said he was going to attend Auburn University, that drew a big cheer from the crowd on Sunday morning.

The prospect said that he felt relieved to get his decision made so he can focus on his senior season and on his academics. He originally planned to make his choice in early August, but noted he was ready to end what he said was an enjoyable but "exhausting" recruiting process.

Attending the ceremony on Sunday were two other Auburn commitments from Mobile--linebackers Tre Smith from St. Paul's and DeShaun Davis from Vigor.

"We are planning on winning the national championship one day," Thornton said. "I feel this class is special--the number one class."

Thornton said that he feels comfortable at Auburn around the coaches and players. He noted that he likes AU defensive line coach Rodney Garner and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and said that he fits well in Auburn's scheme as a pass rushing end.

A 6-5, 221-pounder with good speed and athleticism off the edge, Thornton made 69 tackles in 2012 with 10 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss as a junior.

With a physical frame that could easily carry another 30 pounds, Thornton said his goal is to compete for playing time as a freshman for the Tigers. Losing Dee Ford, Craig Sanders, Nosa Eguae and Kenneth Carter at the defensive end position after this year, Auburn's need is great for Coach Rodney Garner and Thornton said he's ready to provide immediate help.

"I feel like I can come in and make a big contribution," Thornton says. "I want to come in and start. I'm going to put in the work to start. We'll see how it goes."

Thornton continues the roll for Auburn assistant coach Dameyune Craig on the recruiting trail. Helping to land running back Kamryn Pettway to start off the 2014 class, Craig also helped on offensive lineman Joshua Casher from St. Paul's and linebacker DeShaun Davis from Vigor. This week he played a big role in Auburn securing a commitment from four-star linebacker Tre Williams from St. Paul's and now has another four-star in the fold.

Thornton pointed out that Craig's impact on him and his family was huge. "He's a real cool coach," the defensive end said. "He's laid-back. He's like a father figure to me. What I like about him is he shows a lot of respect to my family. I like that."

Thornton becomes the third commitment of the week for the Tigers joining Williams and talented junior college safety Derrick Moncrief from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College by way of Prattville High School.

More to come.

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