Tough Beyond Years: This is Shadrach Thornton

It would be ridiculous to believe that the Wolfpack (5-4, 2-3)  have had a football season without troubles. Rough defensive quarters, plenty of sacks, interceptions, and dropped passes, and key failures in key plays have cost the Pack games and a run for the ACC title game. But in the middle of a rough season, there are positive highlights we simply should not fail to observe. One of the blessings the Pack has come across this season is in the form of true freshman running back, Shadrach Thornton.

Shadrach isn’t the greatest running back in NC State history. Shadrach isn’t the answer to the Pack’s troubles, not yet. Shadrach is lacking in experience and is still young and developing many areas of his game. But, given that he is a true freshman and wasn’t expected to start this year, he is showing that he is tough beyond his years.

We had no idea who Shadrach Thornton was before the Pack played The Citadel in Raleigh and came out with a solid victory, due in part to the effort put on the field by the young running back from Liberty County High (Hinesville, GA).

According to a recent article by The Wolfpacker, Head Coach Tom O’Brien asked the team after the Pack’s game against UCONN the following: “Do we have a running back that can make a safety miss?” Later on, on their way out of the tunnel towards practice, a fourth-string Shadrach told TOB: “Coach, I can make a safety miss.” O’Brien, being respectful but realistic, told Thornton to be patient and that his time would come.

Thornton runs for a Touchdown vs Citadel (The News & Observer)

A couple weeks later the Pack had no choice but to turn to Shadrach when injuries and a suspended Mustafa Green  left Thornton as the only running back available to play. And play he did. In the game against Citadel, Shadrach Thornton ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns. It was epic and incredible. Being in the stands myself, I asked my friend sitting with me: “Who is this guy? No way he is a true freshman.” Was this guy really a true freshman or had we been deceived? He was given a chance to run the ball, and he ran it like it was nobody else’s ball.

It is Week 11 in the FBS and the Wolfpack are in a tight spot between bowl eligibility, the worst season in four years, and coach Tom O’Brien under a lot of criticism as well as the team and the players. Shadrach has continued running the ball since that game against Citadel. The guy even went BEAST MODE on a touchdown run against No. 3 Florida State. But we can’t say that he has had a stellar season. He has made mistakes, dropped passes, had fumbles, etc. There have been good games and rough games.

But even though negative things like that can dig deep into a player’s mind and game, especially with a Wolfpack team going up against Wake Forest (5-4, 3-4) with so much at stake, Shadrach will continue to improve his skills and persevere, after all, he is a true freshman and he has plenty of seasons to become the great player he has it in himself to be. Of that I am sure of.

Shortly after The Citadel game I friended Shadrach on Facebook and posted the following on his wall, congratulating for a great game:

“You da man bro!”

To my comment, Shadrach replied, “Not yet bro I have a lot more to work on. There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

There was no reason for Shadrach to reply to my comment. He could ignored the whole thing and just taken the compliment. After all, he did have a good game. However, Shadrach did comment and his comment showed that beneath the toughness and determination of this young man and college football player, there was humility and character to back it up. You can’t buy character. It is grown.

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