The path to the draft comes with a lifetime of sacrifices. But often times, it’s not the players who are making the biggest sacrifice, it’s their family members. Southern Utah’s cornerback, Joshua Thornton, often takes time to recognize the sacrifices his father has made, not only for his family, but this country. John, whom Joshua calls his “biggest inspiration,” is a war-veteran who taught Joshua about hard work, dedication, preparation and, of course, football.
“Everything he has done in his life,” Thornton said. “Has let me know, it doesn’t matter where you were at, it’s about where you are going.” The 24 year-old draft prospect continues to keep his father’s words in mind as he disciplines his mind and body for the upcoming Pro Day set for March 29 at Southern Utah (SU).
Until then Thornton trains at FitSpeed, NFL star Brandon Marshall’s training facility in Weston. Thornton arrives at 7:45 a.m. and works on his positioning skills, footwork, and makes sure he can still run the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds, just as he did at Southern Utah’s 2016 Junior’s Pro Day). (The fastest time at the 2016 NFL combine was 4.31.)
“I’m just sharpening up everything,” Thornton said. “Making sure everything is tightening up to make sure everything is perfect for the scouts.” During the 2017 NFLPA collegiate bowl, Joshua definitely made an impression when he recorded an interception and displayed his instincts, competitiveness, speed, and cover ability.
Many scouts and coaches are impressed with Thornton’s athleticism and work ethic. People often wonder how and why, the athlete puts so much time into the sport.
Perhaps it’s because Thornton plays not just from a heart of dedication, but also, gratitude.
There was a time when Thornton couldn’t play football. In 2014, when he transferred over to SU, Thornton found himself ineligible to play, but he remained in Cedar City, Utah and worked at the school’s dining hall to earn money.
“I had to grow up really quick,” Thornton said. “It taught me to be thankful for what I have.”
Though ineligible, Thornton stayed dedicated to the team, attending games and cheering on his teammates–even sharing with them what he observed from off the field.
Thornton says he’s grateful for his time at SU. There, he built his character and learned humility, all while waiting for an opportunity to represent his family’s name.
His patience paid off. During his time at SU, Thornton recorded five interceptions and 11 pass break-ups.
In his first year, he even found himself playing alongside, now Tennessee Titans cornerback, LeShaun Sims. By his second year, Thornton’s face was plastered on posters and flyers, he became the team’s vocal leader and hosted a football camp. He shared with young players, advice from his former teammates on how to be a professional. He also displayed how to do your job and to trust whatever you see and stay prepared.
During his free time, Thornton enjoys reading books on animals. He goes fishing and spends time with his family. But most of his focus is on preparing to make sure he is ready for Pro Day.
Thornton says what motivates him to play football, is seeing and making his family proud.
“I’m locked in this game. It’s time to make this happened. I’m ready to go and this is all I got and I’m putting everything in. It’s time to handle business.”