banner
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

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • kornfan2448 Sep 15, 3:48 p.m.

    "Per NCAA rules, Thornton's role in player development means he can't offer direct coaching... View More

    — Posted by itsnotmeiswear

    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, 3:39 p.m.

    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, 3:15 p.m.

    "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, 2:50 p.m.

    Good for you Thornton.

  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Today at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Tonight at 8:25 on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA at Kentucky

    Today at 3:15 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Washington

    Today at 4:25 pm on 620am

  • NHL: Canes vs. NY Rangers

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: NC State at West Virginia

    Tonight at 9:30 on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
1:00pm Today
UNC
OSU
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
1:00pm Today
NYK
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
3rd
LALAF 10
NEV 3
 
2:20pm Today
UTEP
UTST
3:30pm Today
COLST
UTAH
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
1st
GEOR 38
CHAR 29
 
1st
WKENT 22
LOU 28
 
Half
MICH 27
SMU 30
 
Half
CIN 21
VCU 34
 
1:00pm Today
BSU
ABCHRIST
 
1:00pm Today
PROV
UMASS
1:00pm Today
AMER
MNTER
 
1:00pm Today
UNC
OSU
1:00pm Today
IUPUI
SALA
 
1:00pm Today
VILL
SYR
1:00pm Today
VT
CITA
1:00pm Today
DUQ
MLOWELL
 
1:30pm Today
FAIR
BEL
 
2:00pm Today
YALE
GTDNS
 
2:00pm Today
FD
DEL
 
2:00pm Today
PSU
DREX
2:00pm Today
UNCG
ELON
 
2:00pm Today
ILL
MIZZ
2:00pm Today
CAMP
MONT
 
2:00pm Today
LONG
PSUBEAVER
 
2:00pm Today
HOU
SCST
 
2:00pm Today
FSU
SFLA
2:00pm Today
BING
BONA
 
2:00pm Today
RUTG
RFLSH
 
2:00pm Today
MCNST
TOL
 
2:00pm Today
JVU
TRUETT
 
2:00pm Today
GT
VANDY
2:05pm Today
INDST
EILL
 
2:30pm Today
BUT
IND
3:00pm Today
STEPH
ARTCH
 
3:00pm Today
OREG
DELST
 
3:00pm Today
Terriers
FATL
 
3:00pm Today
TXARL
HPYN
 
3:00pm Today
KU
LAF
3:00pm Today
ARKST
MARS
3:00pm Today
MEM
ORU
3:00pm Today
KNST
UMBC
 
3:00pm Today
NW
WMICH
3:05pm Today
MIZST
EMICH
 
3:05pm Today
CHIST
STJOE
 
3:30pm Today
KENT
UCLA
4:00pm Today
COC
DAVID
4:00pm Today
RIU
DET
4:00pm Today
UCR
HOUB
 
4:00pm Today
MURST
ILLST
 
4:00pm Today
NWST
LALAF
 
4:00pm Today
WAGN
MON
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
PITT
OU
4:00pm Today
TENNM
PBY
 
4:00pm Today
WYO
SOUTH
 
4:00pm Today
AFA
UCD
4:00pm Today
MSST
USCU
 
5:00pm Tonight
JMU
HIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
TXST
HTILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
DRAK
ISU
5:00pm Tonight
SHU
UNH
 
5:00pm Tonight
SCU
NE
 
5:00pm Tonight
MSU
TXSOU
5:00pm Tonight
UF
WAKE
5:15pm Tonight
ND
PURD
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCST
YALE
 
7:00pm Tonight
PEPP
RICH
7:00pm Tonight
MAR
STJOE
7:00pm Tonight
KYST
TEXAM
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
VALPO
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
INCWORD
 
7:30pm Tonight
IDST
CALST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
IOWA
7:30pm Tonight
SIUE
UWMIL
 
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
LBSU
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
TXSA
8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
4:00pm Today
LOS
ARI
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
4:30pm Today
WAS
PHI
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
SDC