2011 Intro: T.J. Thorpe

DURHAM, N.C. --- T.J. Thorpe furthered his reputation as a dangerous open-field runner last season by breaking the state single season record for most kick returns for touchdowns.

"It all goes back to what my dad taught me the first time I touched the football," Thorpe said. "He told me whenever I have the ball one guy should never bring me down. That's basically what I live by."

Last season, Thorpe returned five kickoffs for touchdowns, including two in one game. The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder was kept out of the end zone on punt returns, mostly because opponents made sure to kick away from him.

During his sophomore season, he ran a kickoff and three punts to pay dirt.

He'll enter his senior season one kickoff TD return away from tying the state career record.

Mike Briggs, Jordan's head football coach, believes two characteristics, in particular, attribute most to Thorpe's open-field running ability.

"I think he has great balance and great vision – those are two things you can't coach," Briggs said. "…Even though he's not a huge kid, it's very hard for one person even sometimes with a direct hit to bring him down."

Thorpe is Jordan's main offensive weapon. He starts at wide receiver, but will line up in the backfield from time-to-time.

"Basically we want to try to put him in situations where we can get him as many touches as we can," Briggs said. "But also, we know that teams are looking at him, so there are times that we're going to put him in some spot and go somewhere else."

Thorpe ended his junior season with 50 catches for 950 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 180 yards on 18 carries.

Defensively, Thorpe starts at free safety, where he had three interceptions last season.

Among other things, Thorpe's abilities have led to scholarship offers from Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest.

Thorpe has already visited Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, UNC, NC State, Virginia, and Wake Forest.

All the campus visits have helped Thorpe develop a favorites list and, more importantly, a clear cut leader.

"For me, my top school is Carolina," Thorpe said. "Right behind it is basically a tie between NC State and Wake Forest. And then South Carolina is in the mix somewhere. Duke, I had a good relationship with them, but it kind of fell off with Coach [Scottie] Montgomery leaving for the Steelers, but they're still a school I'm looking at."

Thorpe has visited UNC more often than any other school and plans to return to the campus Friday.

"The players I've talked to there, there hasn't been one player who hasn't loved the entire experience there," Thorpe said. "As far as academics go, everybody knows Carolina's reputation and how good a school it is. And [I like] the size of the school, I love big schools, big surroundings. And [I like] just the coaches in general – I feel like I have a real good relationship with Coach [Butch] Davis, Coach [John] Blake, Coach ‘Mo' [Allen Mogridge], and Coach [Charlie] Williams.

"I feel like the more I go there [and] the more I talk to them, the more I fall in love with the school. I feel like [UNC] could be the school I choose to go to."

Originally, Thorpe planned to make a verbal commitment just before his senior football season kicked off. Now, he's unsure when a commitment will take place.

"It could be tomorrow, it could be the weekend after that, it could be next week, next month – who knows," Thorpe said. "My parents and I talk about it all the time and they told me ‘Whenever you're ready, go ahead and make your decision. If you want to wait it out, we're okay with it.' I don't want to shut it down too early, but then I don't want to wait too late."

UNC, like most schools, is primarily recruiting Thorpe as a receiver. One of the few exceptions is Georgia Tech, which likes him as a safety.

"Carolina saw me play free safety and corner at their seven-on-seven and liked what I can do on defense, as well – so that could be a possibility," Thorpe said. "… Also, they definitely want me to do kick returns."

T.J. Thorpe Profile


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