After receiving his dream offer from Clemson on Thursday, it didn’t take Ray Thornton long to make his college decision.
The Phenix City (Ala.) Central defensive back announced his verbal commitment to Clemson on Friday afternoon.
“It’s always been my dream school growing up,” Thornton told The Clemson Insider shortly after the announcement. “Even though I didn’t have that offer, it still was one of my top schools because I’ve had a relationship with the coaches for a while now.
“So when I found out I had the offer, I knew that was the place.”
Thornton first informed Todd Bates, his area recruiter for Clemson, of his decision on Friday. Then, he gave head coach Dabo Swinney the good news.
“I told coach Bates that I was ready, and he was like, ‘That’s great. Call Coach Swinney and tell him,'” Thornton said. “When I called Coach Swinney, he was excited. He started telling me everything, like where I could fit into the defensive scheme and all.”
Thornton (6-2, 195) impressed Clemson’s staff with his performance at the Swinney Camp on Tuesday of last week.
The Tigers view him as a versatile defensive back who could play safety, nickelback, dimeback, “cheetah” and some cornerback.
“They have so many DBs on the field, and Coach Swinney told me I basically have the potential to play any position on the field,” Thornton said. “He knew I could come down and tackle, but he was really impressed when I was at the camp and I did one-on-ones; he was impressed with my coverage skills.”
Swinney helped set Clemson apart from other schools recruiting Thornton, who also had offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Duke and Florida among others.
“The love he has for his players… He is really caring,” Thornton said of Swinney. “He cares for all of his players.”
Thornton also camped at Clemson last summer and visited for multiple games in the fall.
He is Clemson freshman receiver Justyn Ross’s former teammate at Central High School, and they will be teaming up again with the Tigers in the future.
“I’m very excited because we dreamed about this,” Thornton said of playing college football with Ross. “We talked about this before everything happened.”
Thornton’s mother is also a big fan of Swinney and is All In with Clemson, as well.
“She was very excited,” Thornton said. “She couldn’t even believe it.”
Thornton became the 18th commitment in Clemson’s 2019 recruiting class and third safety commitment, joining Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton’s Joseph Charleston and Shelby (N.C.) Crest’s Lannden Zanders.
He also became the Tigers’ third commitment in two days. Both Swansea (S.C.) linebacker Greg Williams and Winder (Ga.) Barrow defensive end Logan Cash pledged to Clemson on Thursday night.
Clemson’s class, which represents 11 different states, is now ranked No. 3 nationally according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Hot off the press. ‘Back with a Vengeance’ is now available for online orders. TCI takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season as the Tigers march towards another national championship. Order your copy today!