Last week, Clemson safety commitment Ray Thornton helped his team bring home the ultimate hardware for the first time in a while.
Thornton and Central High School (Phenix City, Ala.) defeated Thompson (Alabaster, Ala.), 52-7, in the Alabama Class 7A state championship game to win the school’s first state title since 1993.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” Thornton told TCI. “We set our minds to get past the hump and achieve it.”
With the win, Central finished the season with a 14-0 record, clinching its first undefeated campaign since 1944.
Thornton had his moment to shine in the state championship victory, as he intercepted a pass from Alabama quarterback commit Taulia Tagovailoa – the brother of Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa – and returned the interception 68 yards to set up a field goal early in the third quarter.
“I feel like big-time players make big-time plays,” Thornton said of his highlight-reel pick.
Overall, Thornton was a key part of a Central secondary that limited Tagovailoa to 7-of-11 passing for 44 yards and the interception.
Clemson assistant Jeff Scott was on hand at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, the site of the state title game, to watch Thornton and his teammate — Tigers wide receiver target E.J. Williams.
“It meant a lot knowing he was there,” Thornton said. “I feel like he really thinks that we are fit for their system and could be productive.”
Thornton committed to Clemson in June, when he chose the Tigers over offers from Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech and others. He is set to enroll early at Clemson next month.