The “Frozen Tundra” is now home to former Southern Miss defensive lineman Khyri Thornton, settling in as one of the 2014 NFL draft picks of the Green Bay Packers.
Drafted in the third round and 85th overall, Thornton says it was a blessing to be selected by the Packers. “ I couldn’t have asked to come to a better team,” Thornton said during last week’s rookie orientation. “ This was my favorite team growing up and I am enjoying it right now.”
A “blessing” could be seen as an understatement for Thornton, who attempted to play college football on scholarship at Florida State University, but due to not meeting NCAA eligibility requirements, his scholarship was revoked.
The Panama City, Fla., native then tried to play for the University of South Florida but was denied by a special committee, despite having the qualifications set forth by the NCAA.
From there, Thornton came to Southern Miss, a place where he received the opportunity to, not only play college football, but become a leading force on the field.
In his four-year career as a Golden Eagle, he played in 50 games, compiling 116 tackles, attributing 30 of those for a loss and recording nearly seven sacks.
Before becoming a Packer nearly three weeks ago, Thornton dealt with NFL critics saying he would be drafted in the fifth or six round, lacked pass rush moves and a strong motor towards the end of games.
However, he proved them wrong, being drafted two rounds earlier. Now that he has started rookie camp, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Thornton stated he was not a mystery man, that if people don’t know him, “they will know about him.”
Over the last two years, the Packers have made changes to its defensive line, drafting Jerel Worthy and Mike Worthy in 2012, and Datone Jones and Josh Boyd in 2013. Thornton becomes the fifth lineman to be drafted in the last three years.
Due to his versatility, strength and ability to line up anywhere along the front line, Thornton could end up rotating between the three technique, five technique or over the nose.
Nevertheless, the 304-pound lineman says he will play anywhere he is needed.
“I’m just trying to catch up with the scheme and learn the plays to get where I want to be, Thornton said. “ Playing time, it may depend on how fast I learn the scheme, how fast I learn the playbook.”