Auburn's effort to rejuvenate the defensive line took an important step forward Sunday morning.
Justin Thornton, a 6-foot-6 defensive end from Vigor High in Mobile, has given the Tigers a fourth Mobile-area player committed to its latest recruiting class. The Rivals250 prospect brings speed and agility off the edge with an intriguing body capable of holding significantly more weight. Ends with lanky bodies are so difficult to project because it takes so much time to add the weight necessary to thrive at that position.
Will he be able to retain his speed at 250 pounds? Or 270 pounds? Auburn isn't too worried about projections at this point. Coaches see a young man with unusual agility and plenty of tenacity -- and that's exactly what Auburn needs to upgrade its effort off the edge.
Here's AuburnSports.com's Impact Analysis of Moncrief's addition to the class.
Auburn was in the periphery of Thornton's consciousness situation until last weekend, when Thornton visited campus and spent plenty of one-on-one time with the coaching staff.
His relationship with assistant coach Dameyune Craig played a central role there. It's no surprise -- Craig, who signed with Auburn out of Mobile two decades ago, now has snagged commitments from four top players in his hometown.
The relationship between Craig and Thornton changed things.
Thornton entered the trip believing that Auburn was in his top five. He left a week ago with the Tigers in third place behind LSU and Texas A&M. After a week of soul-searching and introspection, Thornton decided that his weekend on the Plains, which coincided with a visit from coveted end prospect Da'Shawn Hand, deeply affected what he valued in a school.
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