West Virginia commit Jalen Thornton recently took an official visit to Morgantown. The 6-1 240-lb defensive end had many offers but there was only one place he knew he belonged.
“West Virginia was always at the top.” Explained Jalen. “Anyone that knows me and my family knows that. I knew when I made that decision, it was the right decision, and I never second guess that.”
The name Thornton has a lot of prestige among Mountaineer fans. Jalen’s father John played at WVU from 1995-98 and was a big part of the 96’ defense that was ranked number one in the country. There come a lot of expectations with being a legacy kid. Jalen is not only embracing the opportunity but is ready to leave his mark on the program.
“I think any legacy kid for any school would take that personally. What my dad has done here (WVU) I don’t rule that out. I don’t take that for granted and I would love to add on to it, but at the same time I’m trying to make my own legacy and prove to everyone who I am,” said Jalen.
During Johns time in Morgantown, he played with another defensive legend in Gary Stills. Both Dante and Darius are currently playing for the Mountaineers and in the near future, it could be an all Stills and Thornton defensive line.
“We were talking about that the other day.” As Jalen described his interaction with Dante. “Dante was my host. We were talking about how great they were. It’s funny how we get to do the exact same thing. I’m trying to be really good and all, but they were top notch. Great players. It would be great for us to be at that exact same level. We actually get see to see what’s to happen now. Maybe we’ll get to make a comparison in a couple years to see who the better class was.
Dante is coming off a year where he was named freshman All-American and gave him a little piece of advice that stuck with him. “Work, work, work when you get here. If you know the plays and you work really hard, you’re going to play.”
Getting the tour around the facilities, he got a message from the training staff that caught his attention. “Even the trainers in the weight room our trainers were even saying you don’t have to love the weight room you got to embrace it, same in the film room. You got to work, work, work if you want to be good.”
This was Jalen’s first official visit and he soaked it all in. “I actually got to picture myself of what it likes going to be up there (Morgantown).” Explained Jaelen. “Hanging out there, sleeping there overnight, even though I stayed at a hotel. Hanging out with the players seeing the coaches how they interact with everyone. It was a good time”
Jalen not only spent time with the coaches but was able to see what practice was like. “I got a chance to watch them practice this week. Personally, I’m not being biased because I’m on this team, I think they’re the best defensive line in the country. Bruce Tall an amazing coach. Coach Gibson is a great defensive coordinator and all their players play hard. They’re the DAWGS for a reason. That’s all it is, plain and simple. They’re fast, physical and they play really hard.” Boasted Thornton.
Defensive Coordinator Tony Gibson is known for his fiery demeanor, but Jalen said he’s all for his constructive criticism.
Thornton likes what he see’s on the defensive side of the ball and being on the frontline he knows what it takes to be a part of the DAWGS. “On the defensive side the team that plays harder, plays faster, wants it more. Talent and coachability, those are big pieces. But being a defensive player, you got to play like a mad dog. You got to be play crazy out of your mind. I think they have the best keys in their defensive mindset.”
While boasting about the Mountaineer defense, he continued by giving an example. “You saw the first game against Tennessee. You watch the first drive, tackle for loss, (Kenny) Bigelow rocks their player. They got great energy. They have all the juice.”
This was the only official visit Jalen has taken during his recruitment. He has been to other programs for games; however, Mountaineer fans stand alone and was one of the reasons he’s continuing his academic and football career at West Virginia.
“I would be walking up the stands after a game. I’m assuming people know who I am because of my name, but people who I could tell didn’t know who I was they would say ‘hey thank for coming to the game please come back soon.’ No one ever says that from other schools I guarantee you that.” Bragged Thornton.
Jalen understands how much the football team means to the state of West Virginia. “That’s all they got. They don’t have professional teams. They have 60k fans at the games. I love the atmosphere there. I love the love you get down there. I love loud games I love people watching me play. I love all of it. I soak it all in.”
Jalen will be signing his letter of intent on December 19th and will be on campus in June.