DT Thornton not admitted, released from USF
Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, who signed with the Bulls in February, said Wednesday that he was not accepted by an academic committee that reviews incoming athletes at USF and has been granted a release from his scholarship.
Thornton, from Panama City, said he has been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, so he was surprised when USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales called Friday and said the committee was not accepting him. Thornton graduated from Bay High School last year and spent last fall at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia working to get his grade-point average raised to meet NCAA requirements. He said he was told his GPA was not high enough to gain admission to USF.
"I'm disappointed," coach Jim Leavitt said Wednesday afternoon. "We were excited about Khyri coming to play for us, but I'm not the committee. I don't make these decisions. It's out of my hands."
USF had asked him to attend a junior college for a year and a half and return to USF in Dec. 2010, but Thornton said because he's already sat out a year since high school, he will find another four-year university where he can attend this fall. He said he will visit Southern Miss this weekend, and named Clemson, N.C. State and Florida Atlantic as other schools he would be considering.
The Bulls have solid depth at defensive tackle, with junior Terrell McClain and freshman Cory Grissom projected as starters, though Thornton could have been USF's top backup to Grissom at nose tackle. The Bulls also have Keith McCaskill and Anthony Hill as backups and junior Leslie Stirrups joining the team this fall, though Thornton's absence could make the Bulls rethink the spring shift of starting defensive tackle Aaron Harris to defensive end.
Thornton is the third member of USF's incoming class who won't be enrolling this fall -- running back Adaris Bellamy will attend a prep school in Virginia, and cornerback Kevin WIlliams did not pass enough junior college courses to be admitted this fall. In addition, tight end Gerard Atkins is expected to grayshirt and join the Bulls in January, though he could join the class in August if there are others who fail to qualify.