North Carolina

Thornton embracing advisor role at UNC

Posted September 15, 2011

North Carolina Logo

— A college football player is apt to listen to an NFL player who spent a decade in the league. That's what North Carolina is hoping after former Tar Heel David Thornton took an advisory role with the team.

Thornton was at peace with his decision to retire from the NFL after nine seasons, the last of which was spent recovering from hip surgery. But after playing 121 games in the eight seasons prior, he didn't know what to do next.

"A few months ago, I was planning on doing what retired people do, and that's relax and chill," Thornton said.

When interim head football coach Everett Withers called Thornton for a job on the UNC football staff, he felt the timing could not have been better.

“To me, it was divine, very divine in how it worked out,” Thornton said. “I didn't know it would happen so quickly with the opportunity to come back to my alma mater."

Withers and Thornton have known each other since they were a part of the Titans organization in 2006. Thornton missed just one game in his first three years in Tennessee from 2006-09. He had his best year as a Titan in 2007 collecting 93 tackles, two interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while playing in all 16 games.

As a player, the Goldsboro native came to Carolina in the late 90s and was merely a walk-on.
Thornton struggled through academic problems and a coaching change before he turned it around and developed into an All-ACC linebacker and a productive NFL career with the Colts and Titans.

“My story is able to reach a lot of these guys, where they are, so I'm just able to really come in and serve as a mentor and a positive image for the team," Thornton said.

Withers also puts high value on Thornton’s association with the team.

"If our kids will learn from guys like David Thornton, it's worth every bit of having David around," Withers said.

Per NCAA rules, Thornton's role in player development means he can't offer direct coaching to players, only encouragement.

Thornton has not ruled out pursuing a career in coaching down the road, but says right now he is comfortable where he is at.

"Right now, I'm just learning,” Thornton said. “Being out here with these guys and encouraging them to do what they're doing is just as fulfilling for me. To plant a seed and tell a kid to keep pushing, keep working, your labor never goes in vain."

4 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • kornfan2448 Sep 15, 2011

    View quoted thread



    My thoughts precisely. And people question why the rule book needs revamped. He can offer a lot to the players on this team with both his experience while at UNC and his time in the NFL. At the very least, I like that Withers is thinking of surrounding his players with people that can lead, or encourage, by example.

  • cussmikemeout Sep 15, 2011

    I'm happy he wants to do something with his life. Maybe coaching in college or high school. He has the experience to guide player in the right direction.

  • itsnotmeiswear Sep 15, 2011

    "Per NCAA rules, Thornton's role in player development means he can't offer direct coaching to players, only encouragement."

    I guess this means you can't have but so many "coaches"? Are the roles really that defined by the NCAA? This seems to leave a lot for interpetation.

  • 4tarheels Sep 15, 2011

    Good for you Thornton.

  • NFL: Oakland at Kansas City

    Tomorrow at 8:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Premier League: Leicester vs. Manchester City

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Franklin Templeton Shootout

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: Utah at Xavier

    Saturday at 5:30 pm on FOX50

  • MLS: Seattle at Toronto

    Saturday at 8:00 pm on FOX50

  • Golf: PNC Father/Son Challenge

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Dallas at NY Giants

    Sunday at 8:20 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Canes at Anaheim

    Tonight at 10:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL: Canes at Los Angeles

    Tomorrow at 10:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Top 25
Sat, Dec 10
25
12:00 PT1:00 MT2:00 CT3:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
Preview
NFL Scoreboard
Thursday, Dec. 8
Oakland 5:25 PT6:25 MT7:25 CT8:25 ET1:25 GMT9:25 北京时间6:25 MST8:25 EST7:25 CT5:25 UAE (+1)20:25 ETNaN:�
Preview
Kansas City 
Sunday, Dec. 11
Pittsburgh 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Buffalo 
San Diego 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Carolina 
Cincinnati 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Cleveland 
Chicago 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Detroit 
Houston 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Indianapolis 
Minnesota 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Jacksonville 
Arizona 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Miami 
Washington 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Philadelphia 
Denver 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET18:00 GMT2:00 北京时间11:00 MST1:00 EST12:00 CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:�
Tennessee 
NY Jets 1:05 PT2:05 MT3:05 CT4:05 ET21:05 GMT5:05 北京时间2:05 MST4:05 EST3:05 CT1:05 UAE (+1)16:05 ETNaN:�
San Francisco 
Seattle 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Green Bay 
Atlanta 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Los Angeles 
New Orleans 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET21:25 GMT5:25 北京时间2:25 MST4:25 EST3:25 CT1:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ETNaN:�
Tampa Bay 
Dallas 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
NY Giants 
Monday, Dec. 12
Baltimore 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET1:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST7:30 CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:�
New England 
Minor League Baseball
International League
El Paso 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre