A couple of teammates from Alabama, including a priority Clemson prospect, watched the ACC’s Tigers defeat their home-state Auburn Tigers last weekend while witnessing a game in Death Valley for the first time.
Five-star wide receiver Justyn Ross unofficially visited Clemson on Saturday with his talented teammate at Phenix City (Ala.) Central High, 2019 defensive back Ray Thornton.
It marked the first game-day visit to Clemson for both.
“The game and the atmosphere was great,” Thornton told The Clemson Insider. “I loved every second of it. The fans also loved all the recruits. It was a great experience.”
“We both had a lot of fun because it was great being around the atmosphere,” Thornton added of Ross. “He said it was nice. He loved it.”
The two recruits were treated to a competitive game and saw Clemson knock off another college football power, 14-6, to strengthen its position as a College Football Playoff contender.
“It was a big win,” Thornton said. “It really showed who put in the most work. It came down to the last quarter. Both teams worked hard but Clemson wanted it even more.”
While Ross is one of Clemson’s top targets in the 2018 class, Thornton is firmly on the Tigers’ radar for the next cycle.
Thornton (6-2, 195) was invited to compete at the Dabo Swinney Camp in June and opened the eyes of Clemson’s staff with his performance.
Thornton has an offer from Mississippi State, while schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia have shown interest. He impressed Crimson Tide coaches at their camp over the summer, as well.
Clemson co-defensive backs coaches Mickey Conn and Mike Reed, as well as area recruiter Todd Bates, continued to express their interest during the visit Saturday.
“They all basically said somewhere around the same thing,” Thornton said. “They asked about my season and my last game I played in against Auburn High which was a big win. They also said they are liking how I am playing and to keep working and it’s going to pay off.”
Thornton transferred to Central from Columbus (Ga.) during the offseason. He visited Clemson a couple of times while at Columbus, as well.
Saturday’s visit, meanwhile, was the third to Clemson for Ross. He visited two weeks after receiving an offer from the Tigers in late March and returned in June with his mother.
In June, Ross named Clemson one of his top five schools along with Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State.