Brian Smith


For the class of 2021, the Fighting Irish need an infusion of wide receiver talent. With two very talented pass catchers already in the fold, the Irish will be selective with any additional wideouts. One of the few Notre Dame would like to land hails from Maryland.

Dont’e Thornton, Jr., WR, 6-4, 185, Baltimore, MD (Mount Saint Joseph)


Thornton originally pledged to Penn State but reopened his recruitment earlier this year. Notre Dame offered Thornton this September. Additionally, Thornton took in a Notre Dame camp just over a year ago.


Oregon, Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, Maryland, Notre Dame, Michigan, Miami, Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Syracuse and Tennessee represent the majority of power 5 offers.


The best high school prospect I ever watched would be Randy Moss. While there shall be just one Moss, certain players hold similar characteristics. Moss possessed an extremely long stride. It was all but unfair. Thornton may not stride like Moss (nobody does), but he glides like a gazelle. Once he gains more explosion via a college weightlifting program, he will add another level of speed. Thornton looks effortless as he runs across the deep middle to catch a post pass. No wonder he earned so many offers to date.


Yes, he’s long. Very long. Once a quarterback gains a rapport with Thornton, it should be expected that smaller defensive backs will be taken advantage of via back shoulder throws, fades, and any form of jump ball. Most importantly, Thornton could be a dominant red zone player. Very few defensive backs will be able to handle him one-on-one in the corner of the end zone.


Despite his long legs, Thornton shows surprising quickness. He’s not a jitterbug like a slot wide receiver, but a player that separates at the line of scrimmage. In fact, he’s natural off the line due in part to quickness. Again, a year in a college weight room…


This is the area that Thornton needs to improve the most. He’s definitely a natural athlete, but the ability to physically take away jump ball passes is a must at the power 5 level. Further, Thornton would likely struggle to defeat bump and run coverage while going against veteran college cornerbacks. It’s just part of the maturation process.


Easily could be 210. No question. Thornton will grow into his body just like any young wide receiver. In time, he will be a player that can run by defensive backs as well as out position defensive backs with his height, length and strength.


Thornton is a player with incredible upside. He’s going to need time to learn a college passing game and of course get bigger and stronger. With that said, by the middle of sophomore year, he should be a major contributor at any program in the country. He’s that talented.

Could Thornton play right away in college? It’s not out of the question. He’s big and athletic, so that’s a great start. With the right coach and situation, Thornton could make an immediate impact. It would be surprising if Notre Dame did not feel it had a real shot because the Irish offered in September. Thornton is a player to keep an eye for Notre Dame fans and fans of programs across the country. He’s one of the best for the class of 2021.

Comments (2)
No. 1-1

I've watched his film before. I was very impressed. His speed/quickness combo impressed me the most. Usually guys that big don't have his quickness.