A mere 10 days after making his debut with NC State in the Wolfpack’s win at Old Dominion, Thornton was arrested again on Western Blvd. Tuesday night. Something that almost certainly could have been avoided, an incident involving him riding his moped, ultimately did him in.
Thornton was arrested for failure to give information/aid personal injury near the College Inn after striking an individual with his scooter.
In his final college game Saturday, the senior running back from Hinesville, Ga. dissected South Alabama for 111 yards on only 12 carries. He finishes his career with 2,572 yards rushing, good for sixth all-time in NC State history.
Despite missing three contests due to suspension and not appearing in the first three games in his freshman season, Thornton was just 210 yards from passing Ray Robinson for fourth on the all-time chart and a mere four yards behind Anthony Barbour for fifth place.
Sadly, there is a symmetry between Thornton coming just short in climbing the ranking of NC State’s all-time rushers and the view most will have of his college career as a whole. There will be roughly a season’s worth of games left on the table, give or take a few depending on how well the Wolfpack fares this season.
With the 12-to-14 more games that he missed due to suspension or coach’s decision, and a modest 85-90 yards per game average in those contests (Thornton had nine 100-yard rushing games in his career), he would have perhaps concluded his NC State career as second only to Ted Brown in rushing yards by a Wolfpack rusher. If he had simply played all the games in 2015 he would have easily ended fourth.
The transgressions that ultimately did him in are common among college students. However, Thornton had a remarkable ability to always get caught--which is ironic since on the field he often was as elusive as any runner ever to wear the NC State uniform.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren tried to coax one final trouble-free stretch out of the enigmatic senior in an attempt to see him end his run in Raleigh with glory. It was not meant to be. Doeren deserves credit for not turning his back on Thornton, as he also deserves plaudits for finally seeing enough to cut ties.
"It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, but we’ve made the decision to dismiss Shadrach from our program, Doeren said in a statement released by the school. "We will continue to support him academically and help him earn his degree."
As for Thornton, he is a young man with a long life ahead of him. Engaging and polite when dealing with the media, he has potential to be successful in football and in other areas.
While this is not the way he wanted it to end, hopefully the senior who is set to graduate in the spring will realize that it is not only an end but also a beginning. It can be the start of a dash towards maturity and fulfillment of his potential. It would be the greatest gain of his life.
Thornton has always been on the cusp of greatness. He now has a chance to show how bad he really wants it.