"Everything was wonderful," Justin Thornton said late Saturday night on the drive home to Prichard (AL). "It was like everything I dreamed of. It couldn't have been better."
Just talking to Thornton it is easy to see that academics are high on his list opf priorities when it comes to picking a college football program. He saw he ever wanted and more at Florida.
"The academics and that is the most important thing," he said about what stood out to him on Saturday. "They want you to be successful at football and also life. You are only one injury away from not playing football and they want to make sure you go on to get your diploma. My mom loved it and of course the thing that stood out the most to her was the academic part."
The drive was longer than they anticipated, but it made for a lot of alone time with the coaches that are pushing him to become Gators.
"We really had one-on-one time because we got there late," Thornton said. It was some of the same stuff as Florida State, but even better. It was a dream visit."
Thornton got to meet new defensive line coach Brad Lawing who has been huge in the recent development of linemen at the university of South Carolina. Thornton hit it off well with Lawing.
"Coach Lawing is a great coach," Thornton said. "He would love to have me come play for him. He said he isn't scared to coach a great player. I know he coached Jadeveon Clowney and it would be an honor to play for him. He won't just make you a great player, he will develop you. I know he will develop me into a better player."
Lawing and head coach Will Muschamp are all over Thornton and like what he brings to the table in terms of the BUCK position, a hybrid linebacker-end type that has been increasingly hard for them to find on the recruiting trail.
"They were impressed by my arms, they had to pull out the ruler for my arms and see how long they were," he said with a laugh. "They like how I convert the power and the speed and use my arms. They say they will develop me into a great player, into someone better than Clowney. They got me as their number one prospect on the board. They will have me at the BUCK position and I feel comfortable with that."
With all of the hyperbole over the visit, youhave to wonder what was he waiting for?
"It is hard because I want to do it now, but I still need to wait till the summer before the season," he said about a commitment. "I am going to Florida, but I'm not going to make the commitment now, but during the summer. I will probably do it in August, or before the season."
He will see some other schools. But you have to wonder if there won't be a little fog in his eyes from this trip when he does visit elsewhere.
"They would have to really make me feel at home," he said about any other place he visits. "There is nothing anyone can do to knock off Florida. They are a great school and made me feel like family already and like I was going to Florida."