Former Liberty County High School running back Shadrach Thornton patiently waited for a chance to show his skills. As a true-freshman running back for the North Carolina State University Wolfpack, there was a chance coach Tom O’Brien would redshirt Thornton and sit him out during his first year, but that all changed Saturday.
According to the school’s athletic website and reports on newsobserver.com, Thornton was the fifth man on the depth chart but got to start against The Citadel when Tony Creecy and James Washington were forced to sit out with injuries, and Mustafa Greene faced his first of a two-game suspension.
Thornton got the nod — and the chance he had been waiting for.
Just to make sure the coach would notice, Thornton scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 19-yard run during the Wolfpack’s first drive of the game. As insurance, Thornton scored again on the next drive, pushing the pigskin through from 7 yards out, according to gopack.com.
Thornton finished with 145 rushing yards and two touchdowns and also caught four passes for 26 yards.
“We all knew he could play,” Wolfpack senior center Cam Wentz told newsobserver.com. “He’s talented, as you all saw tonight, and he’s just going to continue to grow.”
According to newsobserver.com, Creecy is expected to return to the starting lineup against Miami this weekend, and O’Brien said he isn’t ready to sit Thornton back on the bench.
“We are going into the week with Creecy and Thornton, and we’ll see where the week ends up,” O’Brien said Monday. “Maybe we found something in Shadrach. Certainly what he showed Saturday, he could be a pretty dang good running back.”
Dang good indeed.
Thornton holds Liberty County’s career rushing-yards record with 4,345 yards. He is the first Division I signee under coach Kirk Warner’s tenure.
Saturday’s game against Miami starts at noon on ESPNU.