Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron might strike one more time in Georgia before they get settled out there in Southern California.
The dynamic duo, who declared recruiting war on Georgia while at Tennessee, are now doing their thing for the Trojans of USC. But they still have their connections back here in the Peach State. And despite all that has happened and what all has gone on, they have managed to convince Mike Thornton, the state’s top uncommitted prospect, that his last official visit needs to be out in Los Angeles with them on Jan. 29.
And he’s likely going to take them up on it.
“I’d say I probably would [take the visit],” said Thornton, a big defensive tackle from Stephenson and the No. 3 player in the AJC’s Top 50 state player rankings. “It’s not like you can just drive out there for an unofficial visit. We’ll see. We’re just going with the flow.”
Though Thornton had some flirtations with Kiffin and Orgeron his senior season — he was one of their main targets when they helicoptered in at Clarkston’s James Hallford Stadium — he never listed Tennessee among his top few choices. Now after mentioning Southern Cal for the first time earlier this week he made it clear the Trojans are a serious candidate.
“Yeah, I would put them in the top,” the 6-foot-2, 280-pound tackle said. “I like those guys [Kiffin and Orgeron]. I do. They’ve stayed consistent with me from the beginning of the process. They’ve never stopped contacting me. Both of them have been in the league. One of them is one of the best D-line coaches there is. They’re good.”
Thornton is a tough Jaguar to get a handle on. While he has always listed a main three of Auburn, Georgia and Penn State, at different times he’s placed Georgia Tech, Miami, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State and a few others on the same level.
And he has been really fickle lately. He has canceled planned official visits to Miami, Auburn and Georgia Tech in the last few weeks. Kentucky tried desperately to get him up there with four teammates this weekend but to no avail. The only official trips he has taken have been to Georgia (12/11/09) and Penn State (11/06/09).
Earlier this week it was reported by some Alabama media outlets that Thornton had eliminated Auburn (probably because he canceled his visit to The Plains last weekend). Not true, he said.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I still talk to them down there. I haven’t eliminated Auburn. Auburn is still a contender on my list.”
He also said his decision is not interdependent on what Jeff Whitaker decides. Auburn and Georgia are both after the big defensive tackle from Warner Robins. “No, not at all,” Thornton said. “I love competition. I know Jeff. It’d be fun if he and I came to the same school. Who knows?”
Thornton said he won’t announce a decision until national signing day (Feb. 3) or the day after. Who knows what might happen between now and then?