Titans linebacker Darrell Thornton using his voice, athletic skills to make impact

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Last season, Memorial’s defense was led by a linebacker duo that was as good as any in the district, if not the region.

Darrell Thornton was an athletic junior who had the size and quickness of a Division I linebacker, and Jayden Fisher was a senior who led the team with heart and football IQ. With Fisher graduated, Thornton is expected to take on more of the leadership role, while adding to his already full arsenal.

In the heat of the summer, Memorial practiced 7-on-7. At this stage, coaches are on the field helping student-athletes learn what to look for to help prepare for real-game scenarios. In the fall, more responsibility will fall on the players to get things right on the field.

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Thornton’s range and ability to play the pass comes from his middle school years, when he played safety. Realizing how much Thornton would grow, Morgan said he had to tell him he was going to be moved to linebacker.

“I am a (defensive back at heart),” Thornton said. “I have been working on my coverage and speed and just trying to get better.”

Titans linebacker Darrell Thornton jogs off the field during a scrimmage. (Chris Moore/The News)

Thornton said he must have to take his game to the next level.

“I am ready for my senior year,” he said. “I am going to have to step up more and be a team leader. Fisher was the quarterback of the defense. I have to play that role.”

The Titans defense will likely lean on team speed to maintain dominance. One way to play fast is knowing the position and what is required.

Memorial Head Coach Brian Morgan said Thornton’s experience should help the linebacker play even faster.

“He has played a lot of football,” Morgan said. “Experience is invaluable. He has seen the game. He played safety in middle school and moved to nickel/outside linebacker in ninth grade. He understands everything now.”

The Titans have boasted the top defense in the district for the past two seasons. For Memorial to stay on top, Thornton must be a key piece.

“That is something he has to do,” Morgan said. “There are some things on a personal side with him we are working on with his running and his body that will help him out recruiting wise. People will see that.”

Morgan praised Thornton’s ball skills.

“He wants me to throw him the ball on offense, but I am not going to do that,” Morgan said laughing. “He can catch the ball well. He is a really good athlete playing linebacker for sure.”