Visits: Stephenson’s Thornton gets look at Auburn, Georgia

Sometimes in our zest for all things recruiting we forget about the fact that not all these prospects have grown up following one college football program or another.

Stephenson’s Mike Thornton is just such a recruit. Arguably the best uncommitted prospect in the state and certainly in Atlanta, this 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle attended his first college football game EVER the weekend before last when he made an unofficial visit to Athens. This past weekend he attended his second one when he went to Auburn for the West Virginia game.

As you might imagine, Thornton is walking away wide-eyed and excited about the experience.

“It was great,” he said of his first trip to Athens. “It was something I never expected. I didn’t expect to be as big or as crowded or as loud as it was.”

Of Auburn, he said, “It was great, too. Of course there was a weather delay and a lot of rain. I think as far as playing and everything Auburn looks like they’re pretty set. They looked good. As far as the fans, Georgia has great fans, great tailgaters. Altogether though, Auburn might have the greatest fans because, even though it was raining and wet outside, their fans were still out there in droves and cheering them on.”

Generally Georgia and Auburn are thought to be the leaders for Thornton, who burst onto the recruiting scene with a Defensive MVP performance at Georgia’s Nike camp last spring. But he also holds Penn State in high regard and is being recruited personally by Nittany Lions’ defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Thornton said he’s trying to work out a visit to Happy Valley on Nov. 7 for the Ohio State game.

He’ll likely return to both Auburn and Georgia on official visits as well. He said he does not plan any more unofficial visits.

“Right now I’d say it’s still a tie between the two,” Thornton said of Auburn and Georgia. “I want to get back over there and see their practices and compare what that’s like.”

A decision will have to come quickly. Thornton says he’s on track to graduate early and would like to enroll in college January.

Some other visitation tidbits of local interest:

  • Mack Brown to Florida: Brown, the top-rated running back in the state, committed to the Gators in late July and is basically helping them in their recruiting efforts now. The M.L. King star told the Orlando-Sentinel that, based on comments during the Tennessee game,  he thought Moreno Valley, Calif., DE Ronald Powell was close to committing as well as national No. 1 linebacker Jeff Luc. However, Luc was non-commital regarding the Gators. “They were all talking to me asking me if I had made a decision yet and I told them I am open,” Luc told Scout.com of visiting the Gators’ locker room after the game.  “I am going to just wait things out and see how it goes.” Luc said he plans to visit Georgia along with Treasure Coast High teammate and Bulldogs’ commitment Deon Rogers on Oct. 3 for the LSU game.
  • JaWuan James to Florida: James, a 6-6, 300-pound offensive tackle from North Gwinnett, recently backed out of a commitment to Alabama to reopen his recruiting. He told Scout.com he enjoyed his visit to Gainesville but wasn’t ready to make a move. “I have not narrowed it down yet and Floirida was always in it and still is. The overall game experience was the best part of the trip,” he said. Georgia is among his other considerations, so that’s good news for the Bulldogs.
  • Storm Johnson and Raymond Sanders to Kentucky: Sanders, Stephenson’s standout tailback, committed to the Wildcats earlier this summer. Johnson, a one-time LSU commitment, was getting his first look at Kentucky but is also considering Penn State, Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State and several others. As for his trip to Lexington for Kentucky’s win over Louisville, Johnson said in a text message only, “it was OK.”

23 comments Add your comment

Louis Varnson

September 21st, 2009
4:57 pm

It’s been a while since GA has snagged a recruit. One selling point for Richt and Gardner might be, “Look at this mess…you’ll get playing time right away.”

Flo-Ri-Duh!

September 21st, 2009
5:25 pm

UGA’s defense is very young – only 4 seniors starting and one of them is in a new position he has never played before. Next year the “D” will be 100 % better no matter who the coordinator is.

AH

September 21st, 2009
6:09 pm

I wish we would have hired Chais from Tennessee as our defensive coordinator. We desperately need a new DC.

Douglas

September 21st, 2009
7:11 pm

We need a new DC, a new LB coach, and the special teams coach is still questionable although UGA is better this year.

A real Bulldog

September 21st, 2009
8:22 pm

We have 5 offensive commitments and 13 defensive players committed to Georgia. The coaches know what they are doing and the guys that are coming to Georgia next year are outstanding. I heard a comment during the Florida/Tenn. game about how collage players respond to coaches with NFL experience. I heard basically the same thing during the Tech/Miami game. I don’t know just passing that thought along.

Chris

September 21st, 2009
8:31 pm

I think we go after the DC from South Carolina, Thompson. We did pretty well against him this year but he’s always been a very good DC. Also, what about bringing in a “director of athletic performance” like Jeff Fish with the Falcons. Minus one or two he’s kept those guys healthier than any other team in the league…. something we could definitely use.

GJE

September 21st, 2009
10:11 pm

Louis, I am not sure who “Gardner” is? YOU don’t have alot of credibility when you don’t even know a coaches correct name. Seems like you need to do a little homework…..

fan

September 21st, 2009
11:52 pm

If we do get another D coordinator next year, I say Kirby Smart. Proven coach, a former Dawg. that’s my choice

MB

September 22nd, 2009
5:07 am

GJE…I think Louis might have been referring to Recruiting Coordinator Rodney Gardner. I don’t believe anything more needs to be said.

Chip Towers

September 22nd, 2009
6:35 am

MB: His point is the recruiting coordinator’s name is Rodney Garner, no “d: in last name.

dawgno91

September 22nd, 2009
7:04 am

How many of those “great athletes” from Stephenson have panned out at UGA? It’s time to sign players from WINNING, hard nosed football programs. Those kids know how to win when they come in. Look at Miami. They have signed players from winning programs and now they are winning. They weren’t necessarily “5 star” athletes. I don’t care if you have 10 stars, if you don’t know how to win, you aren’t as good as a “2 star” player that does know how to win.

Vick=Dog killing thug

September 22nd, 2009
7:39 am

I just dont know whats happening with UGA right now? 2-1 tastes ok but I just can’t stand watching the dawgs play so poorly. I’d rather play well and lose than play crazy and win. But that’s just me.

Topp Dogg

September 22nd, 2009
8:19 am

SC coach name is Johnson not Thompson goofball and a football does not look like a baseball.UGA needs to offer the farm to Bud Foster for DC.

KEN

September 22nd, 2009
9:13 am

WHAT IS THE INJURY REPORT ON VANCE CUFF?

azdawg

September 22nd, 2009
9:50 am

It’s a safe assumption that UGA will lose in the recruiting wars some top D players to other schools due to doubts about UGA’s D coaching staff. Evans and CMR have to realize this and I’m sure they do but will not say anything or make changes during the season. My gut tells me there will be changes when this season’s over especially if the D continues to play like they have been playing. If changes are made I hope they go outside and hire one of these Def guru types instead of promoting from within. They need new blood w/new ideas. It maybe what’s needed to sway some big time D recruits to come to UGA. Right now, thats not the message they get when all they’re seeing is confusion on the field and also on the sidelines. CWM has had plenty of opportunities and time to change and even learn new strategies but for whatever reason has not. Mr. Bradley is right. Find someone else. What harm can it do???

Les Miles

September 22nd, 2009
10:09 am

The best player UGA ever had from Stephenson is Reggie Ball.

Chip Towers

September 22nd, 2009
10:46 am

Ken: Not really my place to provide this information but, as Tim Tucker has reported, Cuff’s injury was determined to be a sprain of the MCL in his right knee and he is considered “day to day.”

dekalb coach

September 22nd, 2009
11:08 am

for those that might not know raymond sanders is the best tailback in the state of ga he has all the tools

monty

September 22nd, 2009
11:20 am

I would think that a top defensive recruit would want to 1. go to a school with a history of having the top defensive coaches = top team defenses in your conference, which hurts GA 2. a school where they can learn and be successful and play at least some as a Freshman and start by their Sophmore year if they are good enough.3 a school with a decent chance of winning a National Championship, and a lot of that has to do with just perception or how a team has ranked in the last couple of years. For whatever reasons, maybe all of the above Tennessee is garnering some great national recruits. Wish we could have the pride back on the Defensive side at GA.

BITE ME

September 22nd, 2009
1:30 pm

DAWGNO91, UGA PROBLEM IS UGA GET GUN HO ON 5 STARS PLAYERS. INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT WHAT CAN THIS KID BRING TO YHIS PROGRAM. ALL 4 AND 5 STAR PLAYERS THAT RIVALS AND SCOUTS RANKS AREN’T 4 OR 5 STAR MATERIAL. LIKE I SAID BEFORE BIGTIME PLAYERS SHOW UP FOR BIGTIME GAME. YOU DON’T HAVE A STEPHENSON PLAYER ON GEORGIA ROSTER. UGA DON’T RECRUIT AT STEPHENSON. THEN AGAIN UGA NEED TO DO LIKE MIAMI DO IN SOUTH FLORIDA KEEP THEIR BEST RECRUIT HOME IN MIAMI.

Matt

September 22nd, 2009
5:11 pm

BITE ME…

what are you talking about? I’m pretty sure Kregg Lumpkin was big-time player from Stephenson. ANd you saw how he worked out. Good player but not amazing by any stretch of the imagination. What did you want us to get Reggie Ball too?

Furthermore… Georgia needs to breakout the black jerseys for the LSU game! BUT they don’t need to make a scene about it in the media all week if they do. They need to just sell black t-shirts $3-4 a piece as people enter the game. The media won’t get a hold of it and the fans will absolutley go nuts! And our players will feed off that energy… And most importantly if Jeff Luc is there for the BLACKOUT he’ll commit ON THE SPOT!!!

Jake

September 22nd, 2009
5:30 pm

I wonder if Mack Brown noticed that Florida never broke out the I formation that they were promising to use this year. Moody only got three carries after last week’s one carry. Urban yanked Moody after a fumble but he did not yank other players after their fumbles. Not much of a commitment to a power running game. Why do recruits believe any words from Urban?

Clemson tigers 2013

October 3rd, 2009
9:57 pm

i know both raymond and storm.they both are great hardworking backs and i hope 2 go towhere their heading.to college.BUT I WANT 2 GO TO CLEMSON.