By all accounts, Stephenson defensive tackle Mike Thornton will choose between Georgia and Auburn sometime between now and Christmas. So surely he plans to be at their game this Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
“I don’t know if I’m going up there or not,” the 6-foot-2, 280-pound senior said. “Probably not. I definitely won’t be there for an official. Got some things to take care of.”
When it comes to his recruitment, Thornton — the top uncommitted defensive lineman in the state — is laid back to the point of being supine. While college coaches and fans pull out their hair wondering where and when Thornton might commit, the Jaguars’ hulking noseguard remains cool as the November breeze.
“I’m just taking my time, trying to enjoy the process,” he said.
I had a short telephone call with Thornton earlier this week. Here is an abridged Q&A of that conversation:
Q: How was your visit to Penn State this past weekend?
A: “It was good. Everything went like it was supposed to. I felt contented. I met a lot of new people, got to know Coach [Larry] Johnson better. I really enjoyed meeting Coach [Joe] Paterno. It was a good game. It was a good trip.”
Q: Contented, huh? Did you commit, or are you close to committing?
A: “No, no. Everything’s still the same. I went up there to get a look at football outside the South. I wanted to see how it stacks up. Not bad.”
Q: So is it indeed a two-team race between Georgia and Auburn then?
A: “Those are two schools that I’ve always liked.”
Q: Do you like one of the best?
A: “I like them both.”
Q: What about Michigan? You said you wanted to get a look at Michigan?
A: “I’m still trying to do that but I don’t really know if that’s going to happen. I’ve got some conflicts, some family things to take care of. We’ll see.”
Q: What’s this fascination with Big Ten schools anyway?
A: “My whole thing with the Big Ten conference is I always thought the players were so big, but not so fast. But I was standing right next to them and they didn’t see that big to me. I was bigger than most of the guys I saw. The speed is about the same as the SEC though.”
Q: What’s the latest you’ve heard from Georgia?
A: “I actually talked to Coach [Rodney] Garner the other night. He told me about the things that were going on there and I told him what was up with me. We talk a lot.”
Q: How do you feel about the state playoffs starting this weekend? (Thornton’s undefeated and No. 5-ranked Jaguars take on 6-4 Bradwell Institute Friday night.)
A: “I’m fired up about that situation. [Bradwell is] a tough team if you let them get their motors running. It’s all up to the defensive line this week because we’ve got to make sure they never get started.”
You’d never know from the lack of urgency that Thornton will graduate from high school in December and enroll in college in January. The reality is, Thornton is a shrewd young man who is playing this whole recruiting process close to his vest. He is trying to absorb as much as information as possible so that he can make an informed decision — whenever he happens to get around to it.