Today is a traveling day for me. I’m heading down to Orlando to cover the Under Armour High School All-America Game and the resident practices and skills challenges.
Well, technically I’m flying from Atlanta to Tampa and then driving to Orlando, which should make for some interesting challenges given these paranoid times. The reason for my circuitous route is the actual game is being played Saturday (11 a.m.) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg but all the practices and skills challenges and interview opportunities and such are being conducted near Disney in Orlando. (Seems they weren’t able to secure a facility to play the game in Orlando this year.) So I’ll be staying in the Land of Mickey for three nights before driving back to Tampa-St. Pete for the game.
Needless to say, I’ll be on the move most of the day Wednesday. But I’m going to try to update the blog regularly as I make my way from Point A to B to C and so on. And by this afternoon I should have some tangible news and information to share once I reach the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, God willing. Stay tuned because there’s no telling when or how often I’ll be providing updates once I hit the ground. . . . Make that, land.
Now on to some pertinent news regarding Mike Thornton.
I spoke to Stephenson’s ballyhooed defensive tackle on Tuesday and was surprised to learn that he has backed out of the Under Armour Game. I knew he had suffered an ankle injury in the Jaguars’ season-ending loss to Colquitt County in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs but I didn’t realize it was bad enough to possibly keep him out of this game. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Thornton is considered one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state and I was eager to see him go against some of the nation’s best offensive linemen. He was disappointed, too.
“Yeah, I would love to be down there,” Thornton said. “I was going to play up until recently but I finally had to call last week. It’s sad I can’t go but there’s no sense in it if I can’t play.”
So how bad is the ankle, I asked?
“It’s pretty messed up,” he said. “I can still walk on it and I can run on it a little bit but it popped in that last game and swelled up pretty good. I didn’t need to play on it and make it worse.”
Meanwhile, Thornton’s recruitment has slowly turned into a bad mystery novel, even for him it seems. At different times he has seemed like a strong lean toward Auburn, then Penn State, then Georgia. Now he tells me he’s trying to arrange visits to North Carolina State, Miami and/or Florida. At one time he hoped to visit Michigan, too, but never did.
This is the same Mike Thornton who planned on graduating early from high school and enrolling in college about right now. He and I laughed about that Tuesday.
“Now I’m going to sign on signing day,” he said. “There’s still some schools coming in and fighting for those last visits. They’re all trying to get me to come to their campus and I’m going to give them all a shot.”
Thornton has taken official visits only to Penn State and Georgia so far, so he still has three left. He said he’ll be taking one on Jan. 16, either to Miami or N.C. State. He’ll probably hit Auburn on one of the two remaining weekends after that.
“Hey, this is a lifetime decision so I want to consider all my options,” he said.
And who can blame him, right?