October 27, 2011

In the Crosshairs: Clinton Heaven


The Vanderbilt Commodores have enjoyed a very strong recruiting period in 2012. The program currently sits inside the Rivals.com Top 30 national rankings with 16 public commitments including three prospects listed in the Rivals250. It's the first time the Commodores have ever had three top 250 rated commitments during the Rivals.com era. The success has drawn national attention, with Vanderbilt recruiting becoming a popular topic on recruiting shows as well as regular college football programming in general. Head coach James Franklin and his coaching staff are still pursuing some of the nation's best to join the current commitment class, making the next few months a very important time for the Commodores.

VandySports.com take a special in-depth look at one of the Commodores top targets, defensive back Clinton Heaven.

In The Crosshairs
Clinton Heaven- DB, Manatee HS, Bradenton, Fla.

Contenders: Thornton received a lot of attention this summer several BCS programs. He received scholarship offers from Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Marshall, Western Kentucky, Miami of Ohio and several others. He committed to Kentucky in September but currently sits as a "soft" verbal, with Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and N.C. State still in the picture.

Statistical Production: 43 tackles, an interception, five pass breakups. Manatee 5-2. 53 tackles as a junior, 6 pass breakups. Missed four games due to broken jaw. As a sophomore, 91 tackles and a sack.

Scouting Report: Thornton is a skilled running back with a nice tall frame and a good combination of quickness and power. He has a nice burst for his size off the edge and slashes through holes with an aggressive, violent downhill running style. He currently sits at around 210 pounds but could add another 20 pounds of bulk and become a prototypical every down back at the major college level. Though he may not be overly explosive, he's athletic and flexible enough to stop-and-go and get to the second level with some surprising speed. Perhaps the best quality about Thornton is his balance and ability to bounce off contact and generate some punishing extra yardage. He does need to solidify his technique and run behind his pads a little more, but he has the look of a solid 20-25 carry a game back at the next level. His size could also make him an attractive option at other positions and his hands are adequate enough to be used in a pro-style passing attack.

Latest Info: Thornton currently sits as a "soft verbal" to Kentucky but he's in the midst of several official visits. He took a trip to North Carolina State a few weeks ago and will make an official visit to Vanderbilt this weekend. The Commodores have been involved for quite sometime with Thornton as he could provide a solid change-of-pace from the Commodores smaller, quick backs. The Shreveport, Louisiana native plans to also take an official visit to Georgia Tech on October 28th. It seems very possible that Thornton could end up somewhere other than Lexington next fall. Rivals.com currently ranks him 58th among Georgia's Top 75 prospects for 2012.

Comparable Player: Thornton brings a lot of positives to the table with his combination of size, strength and speed. On video, his game looks comparable to former Florida All-SEC running back and Minnesota Viking Ciatrick Fason. Thornton has virtually the same size and unique running style. He also has some deceptive speed like Fason possessed.

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