Thornton Getting Serious

Georgia defensive tackle Michael Thornton says he distanced himself from recruiting during his season. "I didn't really think about it," Thornton said. "It wasn't until this month when all the schools started calling and everything that I started to think about it again. I want to go to a great program that wins. And where the coaches will help me get to the next level and get to the NFL..."

Michael Thornton, the 6-foot-1, 275-pound four-star defensive tackle from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., has already taken two official visits but says he's still far from making a decision.

"It's probably not gonna be until close to signing day," Thornton said.

That's a far cry from what Thornton had previously said. "I was going to graduate early and enroll in January," he said. "But I decided not to because I wasn't ready to make a decision. I didn't want to rush into choosing a college and right now I'm just keeping my options open."

Thornton admits that he distanced himself from recruiting during his season. "I didn't really think about it," he said. "It wasn't until this month when all the schools started calling and everything that I started to think about it again."

Ranked as Scout.com's No. 11 defensive tackle, Thornton took his first official visit on Nov. 6 to Penn State for the Ohio State game.

"It was pretty good," he said. "That was a big game. I love the tradition there and how they love football."

But Thornton admitted that it was different from what he's used to in the South and the SEC. "It's not all about football like it is here," he said. "The people are different and they talked more about academics and graduating…even if you go to the NFL, they said you could still come back and get a degree. They seem to stress that more."

He hosted Nittany Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson at his house a few weeks ago and he also got an in-home visit from Georgia's coaches at the beginning of December.

Speaking of the Dawgs, Thornton took an official visit to Athens on Dec. 11. "It was great," he said. "But there isn't really anything I don't know about UGA. It was just fun getting to hang with the players and chill. I feel at home there."

His player-host was sophomore defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson.

After a disappointing 7-5 season, the Dawgs fired their defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez, and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris. Do these changes affect Thornton?

"That hasn't affected me," he said. "I don't look at it that way. They need to do whatever they can to win games and that's what they thought was best. (Defensive line) coach Rodney Garner is still there and I have a great relationship with him."

But Thornton admits he will be curious to see if their defense changes. "I like the defensive schemes they run," he said. "That's something I'm looking at."

The only other school to visit Thornton at home was North Carolina State.

In January Thornton says he may be visiting Auburn and Miami.

"There's no date or anything but we've been taking about it," he said. "Auburn really wants me to come there and see it for myself. I like Auburn. They had a pretty good season and I think they did better than people expected."

Thornton says that Auburn and Miami were two of his favorite teams growing up.

"I want to go to a great program that wins," he said. "And where the coaches will help me get to the next level and get to the NFL.

"Or if the NFL doesn't happen, I want to at least get a good degree and have something to fall back on," Thornton said.

He says the school that has impressed him the most this year on the field was Miami. "They really bounced back from last year," he said about their 7-6 2008 campaign. "They're a team that is getting better every year and close to being on top."

Thornton finished his senior season (11-1) with 80 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three fumbles recovered and two fumbles caused. Stephenson lost 21-22 in the second round of the playoffs to Colquitt County.

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


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