Thornton Discusses Four Leaders

"I'm taking things slow," Michael Thornton said. "I don't have a time for committing or anything. I'm gonna hold out and get the best out of the situation. Every school has good things and I don't know where I want to go yet. I'd also like to get my teammates some more attention...I want coaches with a strong defensive approach and a good philosophy about the game. I want to have a great..."

Michael Thornton, the 6-foot-1, 275-pound four-star defensive tackle from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., has 30 scholarship offers and is still trying to narrow down his list.

Scout.com's No. 11 defensive tackle now admits to favoring Georgia and Auburn slightly over Penn State and Miami. All of his favorites have offered as well as Michigan, Michigan State, Alabama, South Carolina and several others.

"I'm taking things slow," Thornton said. "I don't have a time for committing or anything. I'm gonna hold out and get the best out of the situation. Every school has good things and I don't know where I want to go yet.

"I'd also like to get my teammates some more attention," he said.

Thornton attended the Georgia/South Carolina game on Saturday, Sept. 12. "That was my first Division I college game," he said.

"It was nothing like I expected," he said. "It was great. The fans are totally committed and everyone was tailgating and having fun. I didn't think it would be so intense. The whole stadium shook.

"Both teams did pretty well too," he said. "I'm looking at them both and it was good to see them compete so hard."

Besides the game day experience, Thornton says he's also impressed with the Dawgs coaching staff. "I really like the coaches," he said. "Especially (defensive coordinator) coach Willie Martinez and (defensive line) coach Rodney Garner. They run a great defense and I like how they coach. The d-line there is always real strong."

Thornton may be going to his second Div. I football game this weekend. "I may be going to the Auburn game (against West Virginia) this weekend (Sept. 19)," he said. "It's not 100-percent sure yet."

He says that growing up he followed the Tigers. "I love the Auburn tradition," he said. "I'm from Columbus (Ga.), and that's only like 30 minutes from Auburn so my whole family has always followed them."

In-state favorite Georgia is slightly farther away at 45 minutes from Thornton's home in Stone Mountain. But will distance be an issue for Thornton?

"Nah," he said. "That's not a factor. I just want to go to the best school for me and where I can play football and get a good education."

So what else does Thornton like about the Tigers?

"I like the new coaches at Auburn," he said. "They have a whole new staff and they seem to know what they are doing. I think they could be playing for an SEC championship again in a few years and I could probably help contribute."

Another school that Thornton says he used to follow as a kid is Miami. "I've always liked their aggressive defense," he said.

"People sleep on Miami and that's dangerous," he said. "They're a good team that keeps getting better.

"I also like that it's a small private school," he said. "Everything is right there close by."

Another school that has piqued Thornton's interest is Penn State, but he's never visited the Nittany Lions. "I'd definitely like to take an official there," he said. "I love the tradition and coach Joe Paterno and his staff have been there forever.

He says he's being recruited by Penn State's defensive line coach, Larry Johnson. "Coach Johnson has a great track record," Thornton said. "I like how he doesn't seem to be all about football either. He cares about you as a person and tries to get to know you."

Thornton says that a good coaching staff is one of the key factors for him in choosing a college. "I'm also looking for a team that wins," he said. "I want coaches with a strong defensive approach and a good philosophy about the game.

"I want to have a great player/coach relationship," he said. "I don't want to go where they are uptight and don't even know who you are."

Thornton finished his junior season with 95 tackles, three sacks, one fumble recovered and one fumble caused.

He's off to a good start as a senior with 13 tackles in two games. Stephenson High School is 2-0 and the Jaguars defense hasn't allowed a single point yet.

"I'm quick and have great instincts," Thornton said. "I'm a good leader too. I'm an aggressive-type defensive player."

He says he can bench 350-pounds and squat 475.

"I'm trying to improve on my moves," he said. "I'm working on getting my spin down. Also my rip and swim too."

Thornton plans on majoring in business administration or communications. He reports a 3.1 core GPA and a 1280 SAT.


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