A dream come true: Thornton commits to Tigers
|Friday, June 22, 2018, 5:28 PM- -|
Growing up a Clemson fan, it took Ray Thornton a mere 24 hours to commit to the Tigers after receiving the offer he’s been waiting on.
The 2019 3-star Phenix City (AL) Central safety talked to Dabo Swinney Thursday evening when Clemson’s head coach personally extended a scholarship and from there, it was a matter of when Thornton would commit.
Thornton is the 18th member of Clemson’s 2019 recruiting class – the third commitment in the last 24 hours. He joins Joseph Charleston, Sheridan Jones, and Lannden Zanders as defensive back commits for this recruiting cycle.
He chose Clemson over 14 other schools including Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri and others.
“Clemson has always been a dream school. It was always one of my top schools even though I didn't have an offer, so I still had a relationship with the school,” Thornton told TigerNet shortly after announcing his commitment. “I thought about it last night after I got the offer. Coach Swinney was the first head coach to actually offer me. Usually, with my other offers, an assistant coach would make the offer.
“I talked to Coach Swinney, Coach (Todd) Bates and Coach (Mike) Reed. I was talking to Coach Bates and he said, 'That's fine. Call Coach Swinney and tell him.' I called Coach Swinney and told him. He was really excited. He started telling me about how good I did and about my role at Clemson and where I would fit in.”
Receiving an offer directly from Swinney left a lasting impression with Thornton as he began to think about his decision.
“Coach Swinney told me, 'Hey how are you, this is Coach Swinney. I was really impressed with what you did at camp, but I'm also impressed with your grades. I would like to officially offer you a scholarship.' It was great to that call and the offer from him,” Thornton said. “I feel really good because I love Coach Swinney. My mom also him, too, so I was very excited.”
There wasn’t much Thornton didn’t know about Clemson before his stop for Swinney’s camp earlier this month because he’s already made several trips for games and recruiting visits.
“Clemson was one of my top schools even before they offered. I already knew how Clemson was because that was one of my favorite schools growing up,” he said. “Also, my mom loves Clemson and loves Coach Swinney. I loved every bit of it (camp). I went to the camp there last year, too. I've been to a lot of games as a recruit, so it was exciting.”
In addition to living a childhood dream, Thornton also has the opportunity to reconnect with a former teammate in Clemson freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross, who is set to start school next week.
“I talk to him and we talked FaceTime last night,” he said. “He was really excited about it because we both used to go up there at the same time and go to games together. It would be awesome to play with him in college because we both played at the same high school. We're just going to go to the next level and play together.”
At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Thornton projects as a safety, but the Clemson coaches have said he could play a number of different positions.
“They like me at safety but they also told me that I could play nickel. They play up to five safeties on the field at once, so I would be at one of those spots,” he said.
During his junior campaign, Thornton totaled 44 tackles and two interceptions.