Since his freshman season, Shadrach Thornton has impressed the Liberty County High School coaching staff with his ability to run the football.
Thornton, who will be a senior this fall, also caught the eye of several Division I football programs. He has offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, North Carolina State, Marshall, Miami of Ohio, Georgia State, Western Kentucky and Georgia Tech.
Thornton hit the recruiters’ radar after being invited to the University of Georgia’s Dawg Night in July 2010.
“Before I left camp, Georgia coach Mark Richt told me they were very close in making me an offer,” Thornton said. “They said they were going to review the tape from camp. Overall, I did well.”
Two weeks ago, Thornton shined at the first day of the Georgia Tech camp.
“I went out there and dominated one-on-ones, footwork drills, vision drills and hand drills, and they were astounded by my performance,” he said. “They gave me an offer before I left, coach Johnson gave it to me himself. I went up and talked to him and I was pretty excited.”
An article posted June 18 on gojackets.com confirms the Yellow Jackets did extend an offer to the incoming Panthers senior. He hasn’t committed to a school yet.
As a junior, Thornton had 224 carries for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns. He also completed 8 of 23 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown. Thonton had eight receptions for 64 yards and returned six kickoffs for 125 yards.
But his stats don’t tell the whole story, his high school coach said.
“I told him teams like leaders, be in the front of the line, be a leader and lead by example, and I think that has helped him a lot,” Panthers football coach Kirk Warner said. “Some of the first things coaches tell me when they call is that they love his attitude and work ethic.”
Warner expects Thornton to keep up his grades and said he told the star running back it still is a team game.
“I told him he can’t press to get individual stats; he has to do whatever he can to help our team win. ... Obviously they know he can run the ball. He has to stay with the team concept and everything will fall in place,” Warner said.
Thornton said he has four favorites among the schools recruiting him, but he is just trying to prepare for the upcoming regular season.
“I have to stick to playing football, play like I have nothing and not let it get to me. I’ll leave it all out on the field,” he said.
The Panthers finished 2-8 overall and 1-4 in Region 2-AAAA in their first season in Class AAAA.
But Thornton said his team will do better this season.
“If we push ourselves we can (have a good season),” he said. “They’ve been lifting weights like they are supposed to, we’ve been jelling, the chemistry is real good between us and I think this team can actually do it.
“We have a good weight-training program here with coach Warner and Keith McGee. It’s not so much about getting bigger, faster and stronger; it’s about becoming explosive. I come in day in and day out and push myself to get better. It’s the first time we have a nice size O-line, a good physical one and, as for me personally, I want to get over 1,300 rushing yards. I want to get 1,900.”
Warner, who played college football at the University of Georgia and pro football with the Washington Redskins, said the team will focus on the season at hand, and when the time comes, he will help Thornton decide his future.
“He will take some of his official visits and we will sit down and make a list of pros and cons. We will write out the 10 most important things to him and compare those with the schools and their offers,” Warner said.