Traditionally Mobile has been a hotbed for football recruiting as Auburn and Alabama have consistently gotten top talent from schools in the area. LSU and others have also grabbed top players from the region over the years as well, making it a prime focal point for Gus Malzahn when he took over at Auburn.
Including signing Jason Smith in the 2013 class, Auburn signed just five players from Mobile in the last four recruiting classes. That was a big reason why getting Craig on his staff was a huge coup for Malzahn, and it's already paying off.
Committing on Sunday at his church in Prichard, Thornton was joined by fellow Mobile commitments and good friends DeShaun Davis and Tre Williams at the ceremony. With Joshua Casher also in the class, Thornton says it's just exciting to think about the group moving forward at Auburn.
"It's real important to me because when I go up there I'll know people," Thornton says. "I already know people up there, but to have them on the field with me it means a lot. For them to be here today means a lot to me. AU is a big family. They're going to support you."
DeShaun Davis, Tre Williams and Justin Thornton
That support was evident with Davis and Williams both there for Thornton along with family and friends. Longtime teammates dating back to youth league football in Mobile, Davis says it's just great to see what Auburn is doing in Mobile and he's ready to get on the field with his boys.
"This is huge," Davis says. "You've got to have someone in front of you that can hold his own. He's that type of player. At Vigor we have a lot of chemistry. We'll pull off a couple of stunts by ourselves just to make a couple of plays. I know he's going to get the job done at the next level so he's someone I wanted to play with. I stayed on him real hard.
"It's very exciting the bond we've already got," he adds. "Me and Tre were talking about it. We never would have thought all of us from the same area would go to the same school. It's definitely exciting. I'm excited to make plays at the next level with them."
While he's not a current teammate of the duo, Williams knows both extremely well. Playing with them as a youngster in and around Mobile and facing off against them on Friday nights, the four-star linebacker says the thought of what Auburn is building makes him smile.
"It's beyond exciting," Williams says. "We didn't know we were all going to college together. We never talked about it. Wherever he would have gone I would have been happy for him. Since he's going to Auburn I'm really excited.
"Big things are coming," Williams adds. "We're going to have a great future and I think we're going to shock the world."