Mike Thornton ‘narrows’ choices down to 10 schools

I got to hang out for a good while with defensive tackle Mike Thornton Wednesday afternoon over at Stephenson High School. Well, we weren’t just hanging out. AJC photographer Jason Getz was putting “Big Mike” through the paces of one of his always-thorough photo shoots and I took advantage of the time we had for what turned out to be a revealing one-on-one interview for this Sunday’s recruiting package.

Anyway, it was fairly widely reported on Wednesday that Thornton had narrowed his many choices down to three schools, Georgia, Kentucky and Penn State. In fact, I mentioned it myself in Item No. 10 of the Ten at 10 Wednesday morning.

Well, it’s not true. Thornton has not narrowed it down to three schools, though those three are among his finalists. In fact, after being able able to sit down with Thornton and go over each school one-by-one, I determined — more accurately, we determined together — that a week before signing day he has “narrowed” his choices down to 10.

That’s right, 10. He’s still in double figures.

Said Thornton of where he may end up: “I can honestly say I do not know right now. It’s a family decision and we’re going to make it together.”

For the record, the 10 schools are (in no particular order, Thornton stressed): Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Miami, Penn State, Kentucky, Florida State, N.C. State, Tennessee and Southern Cal.

Later I went over the schools with Thornton again.

“Out of those schools I could easily sign with anybody and feel comfortable with my decision,” he reiterated.

So why did I report earlier he was down to three? Here is the absolute full disclosure on that:

I was talking to Thornton via cell phone Tuesday night, firming up Wednesday’s plans and just asking a few general questions about his recruitment when he told me he had canceled his scheduled visit to USC. He was just starting to explain that decision when the phone went dead (Mike gets some bad service at home sometimes but I found out from him later Wednesday that his phone did, quite literally, go dead. Battery gone.).

Anyway, I tried to call him back two or three times to no avail. But I thought to myself, “oh well, I’ll talk to him tomorrow.” I figured at least I’d gotten the tidbit that he’d dropped the USC trip for the next morning’s Ten at 10.

Come Wednesday morning, I’m busily putting together the daily Ten at 10 and just got to the Thornton note. As always, I did a quick Internet search to make sure I wasn’t missing anything new on him when I came across a report at UGASports.com that Thornton had narrowed his choices to Georgia, Kentucky and Penn State. The story cited only “a Stephenson assistant coach” but Kipp Adams is usually on top of all things Bulldog, so I figured I’d better check it out.

The problem was it was during school hours at that point and I’m not going to call a kid while he’s in school. But everybody knows that Corey Johnson is the Stephenson assistant coach that handles recruiting for the Jaguars and, seeing how they’re going to have about 16 signees this year, I’ve gotten to know Coach Johnson quite well. So I hit him with a text asking if Thornton had in fact narrowed it down to those three choices Kipp was reporting.

“Yep,” was his almost instantaneous reply.

Good enough for me. I also got Johnson to verify the USC news while I had him engaged and that was that.

Then came our time together Wednesday. I asked Thornton about his decision to cut his choices down to those three schools. “I haven’t,” he said. “I don’t know where all that came from.”

Awkward moment.

I went on to tell him what happened and that led us into a conversation about the craziness that is recruiting and how much misinformation gets out there. We talked about recent reports that he had eliminated Auburn all together. “Nah, man,” he said. “I was just talking to them today.”

So I figured I better get the story behind the Southern Cal cancellation on the record. Thornton told me he did in fact cancel the trip — “I just don’t have the time,” he said — just like he canceled the Auburn and Miami trips earlier this month. But, Thornton insisted, that doesn’t mean he is no longer considering those schools.

“I don’t have to take an official visit to sign with a school,” he said emphatically. “I could just get up and go to that school because I’m going to know the background about the school, the coaches at that school and what’s going on at the school. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.”

So there you go, straight from the source.

For more about the long, intense and extensive deliberation that has been Thornton’s recruitment, be sure check out Sunday’s recruiting spread.

AJC Top 50 | Georgia commitments | Tech commitments

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98 comments Add your comment


January 27th, 2010
11:30 pm


January 27th, 2010
11:34 pm

How can we be less then a week away from signing day and this kid still has this many schools in the mix?


January 27th, 2010
11:37 pm

Sounds like a mixed up kid to me. I hope he will be able to come to a decision by signing day and not regret it later.


January 27th, 2010
11:37 pm

Dear goodness

I wonder if all these schools are holding open a place for him? I hope Tech can get a NSD suprise!

Calhoun alum

January 27th, 2010
11:39 pm

I can see him, McCoy, and Green making a huge impact on the flats next year. He and McCoy are good friends and he has been on Tech’s campus many times. thwg “Aint Life Grand” wsp


January 27th, 2010
11:55 pm

Great job of reporting Chip

Red Dog 77

January 27th, 2010
11:56 pm

Big Mike Thornton will look really good with that Big G on his helmet……Big Man Big G.


January 27th, 2010
11:58 pm

All these kids are milking all the attention they can get out of the last couple weeks of recruiting…Da’rick, Nickell 5′7″ Robey, and Thornton….All about the attention, because when they decide where they are going, there will be no more mollycottling….


January 28th, 2010
12:16 am

Hey Chip, I saw on the Rivals and Scout boards that Vanderbilt has dropped Nash Nance. The word is that they basically dumped him when he went to Knoxville and told him recently. Have you heard this? I had been seeing it on the Vandy boards for the past couple of days.

What a crock

January 28th, 2010
12:44 am

If the kid is being honest, he’s either not right in the head or he’s not real bright. I don’t care how many offers one gets or how carefully one looks at the information, the process has gone on for a year or more and it makes no sense to still be juggling ten schools less than a week before signing day. More likely, he’s just getting a huge kick out of himself and the attention he can get. A half dose of ego, a half dose of immaturity…

Most of these kids know their number one choice weeks or months before signing day, occasionally they struggle between two or three top choices… Ten? No. He’s full of it. I think some of these top programs ought to pull offers on these kids, just to show them that they’re not the center of the universe…


January 28th, 2010
1:05 am

I don’t know how many chains he has been jerking, but I do know that he has led us on for months. Frankly, I don’t want him. Too much attention has gotten to him.

Unoriginal G

January 28th, 2010
1:08 am

I’ve seen Mike Thornton play, and his talent really stood out to me. But this is a situation in which he can only ask God and his family to guide him. There is no right answer that you can see now. Trust me from my life when I was 18-25. I was an idiot. You won’t know the future until you get there. But it’s better to trust advice from people who’ve been there.

Is Thornton Indecisive?

January 28th, 2010
1:23 am

I’d say Georgia should drop this confused kid. I’d pull the offer.

He seems like the type of guy that’s so indecisive he’ll be that way as a player. He seems to be clueless about what he wants and living with no clear direction for any one school.

Please dude, go ANYWHERE in the SEC EXCEPT Georgia. Georgia don’t need indecisive passion neutral guys like this one. He doesn’t deserve to be a Bulldog. Give it to a 2 star guy over this dude. Go play for our competition. PLEASE.

He’s what we call a “train tracker” or “fence sitter”.

Probably waiting to see where his competition goes because he fears having strong competition on a team and has a lack of confidence in his skills. Narrowing to 10 schools with a week to go? Not a good sign.

A lot of guys have potential but squander it by aiming in too many directions. He looks like the latter to me.

James 1:8 A double minded man will have trouble in all his ways.


January 28th, 2010
1:43 am

Until they actually sign a letter of intent nobody really knows for sure.


January 28th, 2010
1:46 am

come to tech mike


January 28th, 2010
2:10 am

He sounds like a smart kid. He should take all the time he can to make this very very important decision. Sure hope he chooses UGA. :D

HardTruth Soldier

January 28th, 2010
3:00 am

He’ll be a redshirt at UGA anyway! Miss spring practice with a new coach and new scheme, and your not much of an impact player. Kid sounds big, but remember ya’ll this is the SEC. 6′3 285lbs is standard stuff at this level! It always bothers me why his High school produces top notch players, but never a championship.Winners come from teams that win! Key word being team!

sick and disgusted

January 28th, 2010
4:13 am

I want to puke

thornton is not the sharpest tool in the shed

Bama Fan

January 28th, 2010
5:35 am

Wow!!!! Can he academically qualify? If so, we should raise our standards.

True Friend

January 28th, 2010
5:48 am

You know what I bet no one on here has a son with that kind of talent or GPA.(3.1CORE) I know Mike and his dad, they will not move till they get ready. The bad thing is there were people calling this kid stupid and wanting to break his leg in other blogs. How do you think that made his family feel? Chip don’t take this the wrong way but they already commited just waiting on the paper work. All we want is whats best for Mike. A few months ago he said he wanted to wait so his team could get recognition. Then you idiots praised him for not commiting early.Even Chip pressures him. I talk to him everyday. In a few months he will be in school and you Dumb countrys will still be looking for jobs and blogging. He has already made his mind up.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

January 28th, 2010
5:58 am

You know theses highly touted impacted high school defensive tackles are like that box of chocolate. UGA recruited Kade Weston and he was going to be the next big thing By his Senior year he was a role player. In the past 5 years outside of the Bowers kid at Clemson have we had a “impact” DT as a Freshman?

UGA 82

January 28th, 2010
6:27 am

You so-called fans are the ones that make me want to puke….let the kid be a 17 or 18 year old. Stop spreading your venom on these blogs, its trully pathetic on your part and honestly says more about you than any recruit. I’m sure he just wants to try to make the best decision for him and his family. Best of luck to Mr. Thornton and wherever he may end up! GO DAWGS!


January 28th, 2010
6:31 am

@ TrueFriend….AMEN!
I do not know the kid but have seen him play…great talent and will make someone a heck of a player!

@Is thornton indecisive….IF you are a UGA fan…PLEASE do the Dawg nation a huge favor and stay OFF any and all recruiting related blogs…especially if they relate to a kid that is considering UGA!
Key word in last sentance being KID! So maybe..just maybe he may be caught up in the excitement and drama of the “glitz” of what college football recruiting has become! What’s it to you?
You “judge” an 18 year olds character based on what little you know about him simply becuase he is playing up the recruiting “game” a bit?

“We call him a train tracker…a fence sitter…who the hell is “we”…you and the other 2 village idiots??

And as to your bliblical reference….I wonder what Jame might have had to say about what I suppose to be a “grown” man on his computer at 1:30 in the morning bashing an 18 year old kid that he would not know if he bumped into him?

And IF any of the Thornton family reads this blog…PLEASE do not think this idiot is representative of or speaks for the Dawg nation!

St Simons

January 28th, 2010
6:33 am

Please come to tech so we can play D&D and have some great tickle piles every night.


January 28th, 2010
7:06 am


Words of Wisdom! When dealing with a young man during the recruiting process and they are not clear in their plan, don’t waste your time. And whatever you do, don’t go thru the process of explaining why your story the night before may not be accurate. Let them twist in the wind, and while they are doing that you can give reports that matter.

Deputy Dawg

January 28th, 2010
7:22 am

I also read that Vandy had or was going to drop Nash Nance. Apparently he has told them about the UT offer which means Da’rick Rogers will be going with him. Losing Rogers is going to hurt. Richt better get his stuff together and quit losing instate talent like this.


January 28th, 2010
7:37 am

This kid is trouble and is still shopping around because he won’t sign without one of his friends. It’ll cost whoever two scholarships to get this kid.

GA Tech Insider

January 28th, 2010
7:38 am

Cut Michael some slack, people. Rather than condemning him, he should be commended for taking his time and being sure before committing.

You know, sometimes it seems to be a heck of a lot easier with you guys for these kids to make a commitment, and then keep making visits, just saying you’re “looking around with friends” than it is to be honest. They can’t win for losing.

Mike’s super with a great future, and he’ll be successful in class as well as on the football field. He’s driven and has a great family behind him. Whatever program Mike chooses to play for will be quite fortunate. What’s unfortunate is having many of the fans feeling the need to complain about Mike. You don’t deserve him because you don’t appreciate his honesty and integrity.


January 28th, 2010
7:46 am

As I said the other day, the only time I read quotes from this kid he is having to correct the rumors about his recruitment. I wonder how much mis-information plays a part in a recruit making his decision?

My advice to MT is take your time and tell everyone when you are ready.


January 28th, 2010
7:56 am

He’ll either be a Dawg or he won’t. It won’t help unemployment or cure cancer. Geez. Good luck to what ever he does, and pray he doesn’t stumble into a Baskin-Robbins store, he’ll miss signing day with THOSE CHOICES !

Vandy Fan

January 28th, 2010
8:09 am

Vandy has dropped Nance. The Nance camp can take the “But they said they were finished with QB recruiting” stance all they want to. Nance committed 6/10/09. Vandy starter Larry Smith tore his hamstring 10/31 against GT. He didn’t play the rest of the year. Vandy has no other QB on the roster that has taken a snap. Jordan Rogers recruitment had nothing to do with Nance’s timeline at Vandy. It’s all about improving the team, If anything having in my opinion a more accomplished QB in Rodgers vs Larry Smith was going to set Nance up with a veteran team of skill players, running backs and WR in their JR and SR years. That’s the situation that Nance could have come into as a RS-SO and looking at being a three year starter in the SEC. I’ve never seen the kid play maybe he felt like he was good enough go have started as a RS-FR, I guess we’ll never know, which at this point I’m glad.

Vandy Fan

January 28th, 2010
8:14 am

I’m also glad to see CBJ take a page out of CPJ book.

Bremen Dawg

January 28th, 2010
8:19 am

He knows who he is signing with already, just is enjoying the attention from the schools. Its gets them a little fame early.


January 28th, 2010
8:20 am

Sounds like Thornton is quite the drama king. Which makes him a perfect fit in Athens with the rest of the overrated kids that underproduce on the field.


January 28th, 2010
8:25 am

Give these kids a break! They have to make a decision that will have a major impact on their lives at the age of 18. Worse, is that the people “recruiting” them tell them how great life will be at their school without really getting into the “work” part. It has always been this way, we just didn’t have a person reporting on every meal they ate or bathroom break they take. Recruiting of high school kids is now a BIG business.

Georgia Needs to "Narrow" Thorton's Scholarship Offer

January 28th, 2010
8:26 am

I think Georgia needs to pull its offer to this kid. Let’s send flip-floppers to Urban Meyer or Lame Kiffin, since LMLeyer and Kitten are the prima-donnas of flip-floppers.

Sounds like Georgia needs to do a little “narrowing down” of our own with this guy. Not impressed.

Bling and blang

January 28th, 2010
8:29 am

This kid is a limelight grabber and wants to yank everyones chain. I bet this kid has a bunch of hats and jersey’s lined up for signing day for tricks. This kid will go bust … Mark it down !


January 28th, 2010
8:31 am

Sounds like Thornton..is just waiting to see which school gives him a front door key to the Playboy mansion.And Goldtimer..two words Reggie Ball…


January 28th, 2010
8:32 am

Mike, take your time, as much as you want, because this will be a decision that will affect the next several years of your life. I would love to see you at Tech, but I wish you luck wherever you decide to go. Choose the best place for you and your future. In the end, it is not just about football but an education and social climate that will shape you for years to come. Best of luck to you young man…

the Big 3 All Amercians of Georgia

January 28th, 2010
8:37 am

Parade All American List has 3 Georgia guys:
Mason, Ogletree, and Rogers.

Is this guy wants to hit a place like Kentucky, really, is he serious?

Georgia is for top notch guys. Was Thorton’s name on the Parade list for All American? Don’t think so.


those games meant nothing to tech

January 28th, 2010
8:41 am

vandy hasn’t dropped Nance , Moron..are you from Calhoun county too ,,where ever that is


January 28th, 2010
8:42 am

How2Fish, funny you mention Ball – guess which high school he played for? Looks like Stephenson has a long ling of prima donna “athletes.”

Floundering Fox Hounds Batman!

January 28th, 2010
8:43 am

Well back to reality for dawg fans… NOOOO CIGAR ! Gators put a stomping on the mutts last night. WAS NEVER CLOSE !!! I bet ole Damon is having second thoughts on that buy out clause now for CMF.

UGA '89

January 28th, 2010
8:46 am

And I’m sure Tech fans are happy with Braine’s decision to give Hewitt a life time contract. Every year he does the least with the most.


January 28th, 2010
8:47 am

WOW !!! Thorton has 10 schools to decide and only a few days to do it, maybe his decision will be made by the 1st of August.


January 28th, 2010
8:59 am

Goldtimer that’s why I brought it up…wonder if the same head coach is still there?

GT Fan...

January 28th, 2010
9:02 am

I read it somewhere in one of the previous posts, and I agree …….. Thornton knows where he’s going, and he’s probably known for a while. Would I love to hear him say “Georgia Tech” next Wednesday? You bet your arse I would.

I don’t see many differences in his overall situation with the 2 in-state schools …. both need DL help, both will run the 3-4, both have NFL-experienced/connected DCs. The only thing I see is he’d probably get more playing time in the long run at GT b/c the Jackets lack GA’s depth.

The kid is 18 years old right? How many of us at 18 had the media at our fingertips … many of us would probably be having the same “fun” Thornton’s having with it. You bash him today, but next Wed. if he signs with your school you’ll be praising him then. Relax, let the kid have some fun.


January 28th, 2010
9:08 am

You people do realize there is no reason he has to sign on the first day possible right? That has crossed your minds hasn’t it? It should be familiar because Orson Charles didn’t sign on “national signing day” and neither did Herschel Walker.


January 28th, 2010
9:14 am

“vandy hasn’t dropped Nance , Moron..are you from Calhoun county too ,,where ever that is”

Thanks mor0n, but it’s clear they have, his offers been taken off his Rivals page and he’s no longer listed as a commitment. It’s been said that he was dropped days ago. Wouldn’t be the first kid to say they are committed to a place, when actually they don’t have a scholarship there anymore.


January 28th, 2010
9:14 am

GT needs to find & sign a stellar DL coach quickly (if at all possible). This might be a factor which helps Mike decide to play his college football at GT……………………attending GT and playing football for a rising program which has a very bright future would be a very good decision for many reasons.

He sounds like an intelligent person and I wish him well regardless of where he decides to play football.