06/27/09 — In his element: Thornton returns home to host annual camp

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In his element: Thornton returns home to host annual camp

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 27, 2009 11:02 PM

Instructions were shouted.

Whistles blew.

Footballs flew through the air.

In the blink of an eye, more than 100 boys took a knee and formed a circle around a hometown hero.

Former Goldsboro High standout and current Tennessee Titans linebacker David Thornton held their attention and welcomed them to his fourth annual football camp on a sweltering Saturday at Cougar Stadium.

North Carolina native and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker, and members of the Goldsboro High football staff assisted Thornton during the half-day event. Campers participated in different drills and activities in their respective age groups.

"Today was a great teaching opportunity," said Thornton. "We taught them speed work, agility drills and position specifics. We taught them offensive and defensive specific work along with some life lessons as well.

"We talked about being a person of good character and doing what's right. We talked about why you should be humble instead of puffed up and proud."

Thornton's message to youth remains the same.

"God has been very good to me, and gracious and kind and loving," said Thornton. "I'm blessed to have an opportunity to come back and share my story, and bring some of my friends down who exemplify the right way of doing things.

We really encourage the kids that they can be winners in life if they keep God first in their life. If they stay humble with a positive attitude and work hard then the sky is the limit."

Tennessee advanced to the second round of the AFC playoffs last season and finished 13-4 overall. Thornton, the Titans Community Man of the Year, appreciates that success, but insists his greatest sense of fulfillment comes from impacting the lives of youth.

Less than 10 days ago, Thornton conducted his first football camp in the Nashville (Tenn.) area. He continues to speak at schools, work with youth organizations and help needy families at Thanksgiving.

"If you can share a word with a kid or pat him on the back, and he decides to start making better decisions and he believes that if I trust God and depend on Him, then that goes far beyond winning a football game on a Sunday," said Thornton. "It's really about impacting lives to make better decisions and to win in life."

A perfect job for a hometown hero.