As the son of a former NFL player, and the teammate of numerous Texas Longhorns who went on to the NFL, DE Kalen Thornton knew that playing at the highest level was nothing like college.
Sure, playing college football in Austin is big. He was on a team full
of high school All-America players, he played his home games in an
enormous stadium, his team was in one of the best conferences in the
nation and expectations for the Horns were high every year.
But although he'd never admit it, there were those games that basically
were decided before the Horns got off the bus. Not that he expected it,
but there is no Baylor or North Texas on his schedule this year.
Thornton, who made the team as an undrafted walk-on out of UT over the
summer, is still in the learning process. He is a spot player who comes
in during some situations when it's clear a pass rush is needed. He has
caught the eye of head coach Bill Parcells, but knows that every
opponent he faces will be tough.
"That's the thing about playing in the NFL," Thornton said. "EVERY
offensive line is outstanding -- every one of them. They're all big,
they're all strong. That's the biggest difference between this and
"In college, if you beat your man with your first move, you're pretty
much there (to the quarterback). When you get here, though, there's
always someone else there to chip you -- a running back, a tight end …
the lines are bigger and better here, and even if you get by one guy,
there's always someone else there to pick you up."
Going Back to School
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