Vigor Head Coach Ashley Johnson believes that is exactly what the Auburn Tigers are getting in new commitment Justin Thornton. A four-star prospect and an explosive player the last three years for Johnson as the defensive coordinator, the 6-5, 220 defensive end is someone his coach believes will make a difference when he steps on campus in the fall of 2014 for Auburn.
"Character-wise he's a great young man," Johnson tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "He is really focused on his studies now and is working hard. Athletically. he's just tremendous. He's probably going to grow a couple more inches. You can put any amount of weight on him that you want to.
"He's so explosive. He can run. He's a 4.6 guy with his height and size. He's got a long reach. He's a pro football player, has the body to be that someday. The sky is the limit."
Projecting how a player will look in three or four years is always a guessing game, but watching Thornton develop over the years has given Johnson a pretty good idea of what to expect from his talented pupil down the road. With a frame to be much bigger and stabilize the defensive end position, he says the kid you see now will likely look much different when he's settled in on the Plains.
"He's still growing," Johnson says. "He's just 17 years old. He's going to get taller. You can put a lot of weight on his body. He looks so skinny now, but he's 220 pounds. There is a lot of upside to Justin and he's already a tremendous player."
Thornton is the second Vigor player to commit to Auburn for the class, joining linebacker DeShaun Davis. The Tigers have also secured commitments from four-star linebacker Tre Williams from St. Paul's and his teammate Joshua Casher, rated the nation's number three center. The group is close-knit as evidenced by the fact that both Davis and Williams were present for Sunday morning's announcement for Thornton.
So many times players build a bond throughout the recruiting process that carries over into their careers and plays a big part in success down the road. Johnson says the great thing about what Auburn is building in the 2014 class is that the groundwork has already been laid for the Mobile kids and it should only get better.
"They came up in little leagues playing football together," Johnson says. "They are all best of friends. Chemistry has a lot to do with having a winning football team. Auburn is already going to have some of that arriving. They are getting a big package deal of great players that are bonding and that trust each other and love each other. They are willing to fight for each other. I look for incredible things and it's going to be exciting to watch."