The 90 Illini #7: Hugh Thornton August 25, 2012
6′-5″, 310 lbs.
Senior (on scholarship, 1 year to play 1)
Oberlin HS / Oberlin, Ohio
ALE Ranking last year: #14
ALE Ranking in 2010: #11
What I Know About Him:
I know that I pull for Hugh more than any Illini player in a long time. If you don’t know his story, take ten minutes and read this article. Unconscionable.
As I’ve said before, college sports is my thing because it feels personal. Where I went to school, stadium right outside my dorm, classes with Kiwane, all that crap. Any player choosing to put on the Illini helmet is one of my guys. I’m in his corner until he graduates (and beyond). So when a kid enters my program – our program – having endured a childhood like that, I want him to have everything in life. I want every player to go out on top, but I want Hugh Thornton to go out on his teammates shoulders.
And Hugh is primed to go out on top. If our offensive line comes together and leads us back to a bowl game, Hugh will be a huge part of that. His position switch to left tackle – although not permanent but highly likely – means he’s going to be the most important lineman on the team.
What I Expect From Him:
There’s a drill that Coach Butkus (still love the sound of that) runs the line through where two players, a tackle and a guard, pull around the center on the snap of the ball and then initiate contact with a “linebacker”, which is just some offensive lineman holding a blocking pad. Fire backwards on the snap, get around the center quickly, spot your guy, deliver a blow.
One time in Rantoul, during this drill, true freshman lineman Joe Spencer – I think this was his second ever practice – drew the role of “linebacker” for Hugh. Hugh fired off the ball, picked out Spencer… and sent him flying backwards. Like, tumbling backwards on the ground. Better plant your feet, Joe. This is the Big Ten.
That’s what I expect from Hugh. Become our most consistent offensive lineman. Deliver blows. Go out on top.