For a while it appeared that Hinesville (GA) Liberty County RB Shadrach Thornton was most likely headed for either Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt after making an early verbal commitment to Kentucky.
Although NC State was heavily involved, Tech's run-happy offense and Commodore's head coach James Frankin's reputation as a terrific recruiter appeared to give those two schools the upper hand as Thornton closed in on a decision. However, in the end, the Wolfpack won a surprising commitment from the 6-1, 200 pound back, adding even more talent to an already solid recruiting class.
So what sold Thornton on the Pack?
"It was the fact that I told coach Sands that Georgia Tech and NC State were my top two schools and he just let me know he wasn't going anywhere and that meant a lot," Thornton told Pack Pride recently. "Those other schools, they would've been packed up and moved on to the next recruit. He just let me know he wasn't going to let me go.
"But they're a pro-style offense. I think they need a feature back and I think I can be a feature back in that offense."
If his production as a senior is any indication then the thought of Thornton emerging into a feature back at NC State seems like a real possibility. Although he played for a team that struggled otherwise, Thornton still managed to rush for 1,738 yards on 243 carries with 17 touchdowns while averaging better than seven yards every time he touched the ball. Scout.com has him rated a three star prospect and the No. 83 running back in the nation.
As it turned out, the recruiting effort put together by Wolfpack first year running back's coach Everette Sands proved to be the difference in landing Thornton.
"Coach Sands was real big on my highlight film and during the summer he offered, let me know what he wanted and that meant a lot.
"The biggest thing about it was I felt State was the best fit for me. I liked the other coaches (recruiting me) but coach Sands was the most genuine guy and that meant a lot.
"Coach Sands liked the fact I was a bigger back and he liked the way I ran downhill. I like to attack. If you come to low I'll stiff arm you. If you come too high I'll run over you. I mean, one guy's not going to bring me down."
With his high school career over, Thornton says he'll spend the off season running track and possibly playing baseball. As for recruiting, that part appears to be over.
"Right now I'm not visiting any other schools. I'm set on NC State."
Thornton: "State Was The Best Fit"
Pack Pride Top Stories
QUICK PREVIEW: VanderbiltNC State has accepted a bid to play in the 2016 Independence Bowl. The Wolfpack will face SEC opponent Vanderbilt. Here is a quick preview of the Commodores.
Pack Pride12:46 PM
NC State vs. Vanderbilt In Independence BowlNC State has accepted a bid to play in the 2016 Independence Bowl. The Wolfpack will face SEC opponent Vanderbilt.
Pack Pride12:36 PM
VIDEO: Smith's Explosive DunksHere is a look at NC State explosive point guard Dennis Smith Jr. attacking the rim in the win over Boston University.
Pack Pride10:15 AM
VIDEO: NC State-Boston University HighlightsHere is a look at some highlights from NC State's win over Boston University courtesy of the ACC Digital Network.
Pack Pride10:15 AM