How Dont'e Thornton became the man of the room
Don't let the wide receiver's youth fool you. Oregon's freakishly athletic sophomore grew up a long time ago.
EUGENE — The smile said it all.
The game may have been meaningless to some, but playing in Oregon’s 47-32 Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma meant more to few others than it to the Ducks’ second-year receiver Dont’e Thornton.
The Ducks traveled to San Antonio in December with a gutted roster. Thornton took advantage, assembling the best game of his young career: four catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.
So when asked of the end of season matchup, he couldn’t keep a straight face. It signified something for the then-freshman from Baltimore.
“It was fun,” he said. “[It] just showed a lot of people that like, yeah, we might be young, but we can still do it.”
A sign of things to come? Perhaps.
Oregon’s receiving corps mirrors Thornton’s youthful buoyancy and blue-chip stature. On paper, the Ducks have never been this deep. But following the departures of longtime starters Johnny Johnson III and Jaylon Redd, the Ducks have rarely been this unproven.
At 6-foot-5 with dashing speed, Thornton’s talent is unquestionable.
As for his youth? Thornton grew up long before he wore that smile at the Alamo.
By 8, he was the man of the house.
With his father serving time, Thornton took a hand in raising his four younger siblings — waking early to make oatmeal, getting everyone dressed and walking them to school in the poverty-stricken Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.
“That's the trenches,” Marc Lester, one of Thornton’s private wide receivers coaches, said of the area.