Hugh Thornton was a four-year starter on the Illini o-line.
April 26, 2013
New York - Former University of Illinois offensive lineman Hugh Thornton had his name called on Friday during the second day of the 2013 National Football League Draft. Thornton was selected with the 24th pick of the third round (86th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts.
Thornton is the first Illini selected in this year's draft and is the 16th Illinois player picked in the last five years. He is the 10th Fighting Illini drafted in the first three rounds since 2010, the most from any Big Ten team during that span, just ahead of Wisconsin (9) and easily outdistancing Iowa (6), Penn State (6), Ohio State (4), Michigan (3) and the rest of the conference.
"I'm excited to be a Colt," Thornton said after being drafted. "I think it was the best possible place for me and I'm excited about going there to continue my career. Coach Gilbert (former Illini OL coach and current Colts OL coach) gave me the call and the emotions started coming out. He helped me prepare for this day at Illinois and I'm happy to be reuniting with him at the next level. I also want to say thank you to Illini Nation for all their support. All the hard work I've put in, it's a blessing and an honor to get picked this early."
Thornton was an anchor on the offensive line during his time with the Fighting Illini, playing both guard and tackle. He was a four-year starter, a 2012 second-team All-Big Ten selection and helped pave the way for two of the best offensive seasons in school history during his UI career. With Thornton starting as a freshman in 2009, the Illini had a top-20 rushing attack and QB Juice Williams broke all kinds offensive records thanks in large part to solid play on the line. In 2010, Thornton and the o-line paved the way for an Illini offense the broke school records for total points and total yards, boasted the nation's 11th-best rushing offense and produced Mikel Leshoure's record-breaking season. Though the 2011 and 2012 offenses struggled, Thornton remained a constant producer and leader for a young and inexperienced unit.
The 2013 NFL draft concludes on Saturday with rounds 4-7. Coverage starts at 11 a.m. CT on the NFL Network and ESPN. For complete Illini draft coverage, visit Illinois NFL Draft Central.
|Fighting Illini Taken in the 2013 NFL Draft|