2014 DE Justin Thornton (Prichard, Ala./Vigor HS) had tried two times before to make a visit to LSU, but transportation issues forced him to reschedule on both occasions.
There were no problems this past weekend as Thornton made his long-awaited trip to Baton Rouge to check out the LSU program. Thronton has held an LSU offer for quite some time, and the Tigers have done a lot to impress him over the last couple months.
Thornton had high expectations of LSU going into the trip, and the Tigers didn't disappoint.
"It was great," Thornton said. "It was my first time getting to see what LSU had to offer, and they had a lot. I thank God I got up there finally."
During his weekend visit, Thornton had a chance to meet with Coach Les Miles and Defensive Line Coach Brick Haley. He got tours of the campus and journalism department — Thornton hopes to major in broadcast journalism — and capped off the visit by taking in LSU's first scrimmage of the season in Tiger Stadium.
"I loved it," Thornton said. "Finally getting inside Death Valley, I got chills picturing all the fans there. And they're building on to it some more. I can't wait to take a visit for one of those games."
During his meetings with the coaches, they made several sales pitches including Baton Rouge's proximity to his hometown and an opportunity to play early. The coaches also compared him to a pair of former defensive ends that may wind up early picks in next month's NFL Draft.
"They have me playing DE, and they're comparing me to Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo," Thornton said. "They're two of my favorites, and to get compared to them like that is an honor. I love how the defense plays with their intensity. It was great down there…
"They said I'll come in, and if I work hard, they'll have some players leaving by the time I come in, and I could compete for a starting position," he continued. "No matter where I go I'm going to fight for a starting position, but I have a chance to come in and play early. I have a bright future there."
While other schools have recruited Thornton as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme, Thornton would prefer to play on the defensive line at the next level. He said the coaches agreed, citing his speed and athleticism as traits that would translate well to being a pass rusher in LSU's scheme.
He said he weighed in at 219 pounds at LSU, and the coaches said they would certainly put weight on him — much like Mingo, who came to LSU weighing 198 pounds.
Thornton said the visit did a lot in terms of moving LSU up his list of favorites. The Tigers may not be on top for now, but Thornton said he's really high on LSU after this past weekend.
"It's an environment I feel I could get comfortable with," Thornton said. "I still have Florida on the top, but LSU is close to them. I really don't know where I'm going."
Thornton has a trip to Texas A&M scheduled during his spring break in April. He said he also plans to make another visit to Florida either in the spring or summer, and he didn't rule out a return visit to Baton Rouge.
"I'm taking a trip to Texas A&M, who's the third school in my top five," Thornton said. "Once I go there, I'll keep taking unofficial visits through the summer, and hopefully when August comes I'll have a decision made…
"I had my plans to decide in August," he continued. "I'm not going to make a decision any time soon. I'm going to wait until August, before my season."
Thornton has LSU near the top
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