"He's just real aggressive and real physical," Cannon said. "He runs awful well. He played a whole better the second half of the year, once he got acclimated from the defensive line to linebacker move for us."
Cannon believes his star athlete's best attribute is his work ethic and determination.
"I've never been around anybody that's worked any harder or practiced any harder than him," Cannon said.
Thornton has demonstrated that athletic ability on the basketball hardwood as well, as he was selected to the All-Tournament team at the Cherryville Christmas Tournament in December.
Thornton has already visited North Carolina, East Carolina, South Carolina and Duke for their junior day events, and he plans to attend the Scout.com combine being held at Duke University in late March as well as the Nike combine at Clemson in May. Cannon also expects him to make numerous camp visits this summer.
"His plan is to go to a lot of one-day camps," Cannon said. "That was my advice to him. People want to go to a whole camp, but any time you've got a chance to go to a one-day camp, then I think you should do that."
Cannon believes Thornton will have a solid senior season now that he is solidified at the linebacker position. Thornton made over 100 tackles in 2005, despite missing two games due to a concussion. The Panthers finished 5-7 (3-5 Catawba Valley) last season.