Hugh Thornton brings an incredible past to the Indianapolis Colts. The second selection of the Colts’ class of 2013 was living in Jamaica nine years ago with his mother and sister when they were murdered.
“I was 12. It was January 2, 2004. I was sleeping down stairs,” Thornton said. “My mom and my sister were upstairs. I heard my aunt scream. I went to see what had happened and I walked in the room and my mom was tied to the bed and had been murdered and my sister was on the floor.”
“It was an ex-boyfriend of my moms and they had split. He went back to propose, she said no and the situation was he was kind of living off of my mom — didn’t work a job or anything like that. So, once all that was taken away when they split, he kind of had resentment and came back with vengeance and the intent to kill.”
The man involved in the case eventually had all of the charges dropped.
“They tried him and it went to trial, but because the way the Jamaica government works, it’s very lenient towards Jamaican nationals in cases against non-Jamaica nationals,” Thornton said. “It’s a little bit corrupt in that sense.”
So Thornton moved back to the United State to live with his father, and eventually wound up at Illinois. At Illinois, Thornton made 35 total starts at both guard and tackle, and figures to make the transition to guard in the NFL full time. He is already having a blast.
“It was awesome,” Thornton said of his rookie minicamp. “I had a lot of fun out there, learned a lot of stuff. That’s one thing you realize, the change from college to the pros playbook is deep. There are a lot of things that go into it. You have a lot of checks. It’s been interesting. It’s been fun. I’m excited to meet the veterans and go from there.”
Here are some of Thornton’s highlights at the University of Illinois:
- Invited to 2013 Senior Bowl
- Second-team All-Big Ten by coaches and honorable mention by media in 2012
- Played in 42 career games, making 35 starts at both offensive guard and tackle
- Helped lead Illinois to back-to-back bowl victores in 2010 (Texas Bowl) and 2011 (Kraft Fight Hunger)
- Helped pave the way for the Big Ten’s top rushing offense in 2010 (241.1 ypg). The Illini broke school records for points in a season (423) and points per game (32.54) that season.
2012 – Senior: Second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, honrable mention by the media … Earned Illinois Point Award as top Offensive Lineman at annual postseason banquet … Played in 11 games and made 10 starts at left tackle
Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert recruited Thornton to Illinois and coached him there, and now will coach him at the professional level. The Colts targeted Thornton with their second selection and you have to believe they think he can start sooner rather than later. He is projected as a right guard in the NFL, and should be able to step in as a starter in the next year or so.