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Four-star Mount Saint Joseph wide receiver Dont’e Thornton commits to Oregon: ‘It’s been my dream’

Dont’e Thornton had a dream as a young football player from Cherry Hill to play for Oregon. Now, his dream is set to become a reality.

Thornton committed to Oregon on Tuesday in front of his friends, family, Mount Saint Joseph High School administrators and former coach Rich Holzer. Initially, Thornton wanted to make the announcement at the 2021 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, but he understood what he wanted to do and made it official.

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“I moved my date up to this date because I knew that there would be a big date at the All-America Game,” Thornton said. “Oregon has been my dream school since I was about 5 or 6 years old. Ever since then, it’s been my dream. Once before when I committed to Penn State, but once the opportunity was offered from Oregon, [in my] mind I already knew that that’s where I wanted to be at.”

Holzer coached Thornton for three seasons, making a heavy mark on his career. The new Northern-Calvert coach saw the young receiver grow from a player that was thin and “afraid to go over the middle and didn’t realize he had to block” to one of the top receivers of his class in the country.

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Thornton won a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship in his final season, and despite missing the game with a broken collarbone, his grit to play the physical game of football was inspiring for Holzer.

“He learned to play through pain, injury, discomfort — he became a very mentally tough human being," Holzer said. “The fact that he would battle through some of these injuries that he had, before he took the hit at the Calvert Hall game — he’s learned to be a very tough human being mentally and physically. That’s going to serve him well in life because we know that life throws curveballs at us. The people that are successful are the people that are resilient and mentally tough and he’s got that."

The 6-foot-5 wide receiver, who had over 27 schools vying for his commitment, is a four-star recruit and the No. 6 wide receiver in the Class of 2021, per 247Sports. Before committing to Oregon, Thornton’s shortlist of schools included Arizona State, Florida State, Notre Dame, Southern California and Virginia. He committed to Penn State in February 2019 before reopening his recruitment.

He totaled 38 receptions for 1,021 yards and 16 touchdowns in his junior year and opted out before his senior season to prep for college. Thornton, a two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, had 51 catches for 960 yards and 12 touchdowns his sophomore season.

He became the second Oregon commit from the Baltimore area in a month, joining Franklin safety Daymon David, also a four-star recruit. David is a childhood friend of Thornton and was at Thornton’s commitment ceremony decked in Oregon gear himself. Thornton’s uncle Faschall Grade has seen the two grow as players and is incredibly excited to see their careers unfold.

“Daymon is a great safety that’s going to bring a lot to the table out there in Eugene and Dont’e — on the other side of the ball — is a receiver that’s going to bring a lot to the table on the offensive side,” Grade said. “I think that they’re just going to get two young, eager and guys who are willing to do whatever from the East Coast to show the West Coast that we can play ball here as well.

"I think they’re going to make an imprint early, but I definitely appreciate both of them taking the time out and not being scared to take that advantage of going to their dream school.”

With his size, physicality, quickness and acumen for the game, Thornton’s trainer and former Ravens and Morgan State wide receiver Marc Lester believes that the “rangy” receiver could head to the NFL.

“He has all of the attributes, qualities and characteristics,” Lester said. “He’s tall, he’s fast, he’s rangy, he’s athletic — he’s the complete wide receiver. He doesn’t lack anything as a receiver, as far as speed. Sometimes you might get a receiver that’s big, but can’t run routes. He can run routes, he can get out of his breaks like a short guy. He’s just a different kind of guy. It’s going to be really special to see what he does at the next level.”

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