After stint with Mannings, is Northwestern's Clayton Thorson thinking NFL? | Forum

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Angel92 Jul 28 '17

Clayton Thorson likes to joke that his father, Chad, resembles Peyton Manning.

And there they were, Chad and Peyton, at a <a href="http://www.officialvikingshop.com/...n-jersey-c-2_13.html">http://www.officialvikingshop.com/...-2_13.html</a> dinner during the Manning Passing Academy in June.

So did Thorson snap a picture of the two?

"Nah, it was the wrong setting," he said Tuesday. "We'll get it sometime. Next year I'm going back, so…"

And with that, Thorson offered his first clue regarding 2018. But it's non-binding.

If Thorson has a terrific season in his third year as Northwestern's starter, he could opt to declare for the NFL draft. As you might have heard, the league craves talented quarterbacks. A year ago, Mitch Trubisky hadn't started a game at North Carolina.

"Do I believe he will be an NFL quarterback? Absolutely," NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "If it's after this year, that means he's had a really good year and that's win-win for everybody."

At 6-foot-4 and 226 pounds, Thorson has the frame and arm strength to sling it in the pros. ESPN's Mel Kiper ranked him fifth among non-senior prospects behind USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen, UCLA's Josh Rosen and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville.

Kiper separated out seniors, listing Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph, Washington State's Luke Falk, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Idaho's Matt Linehan and Western Kentucky's Mike White.

Thorson got asked about the NFL enough during Big Ten media days that he developed a fairly stock reply: "It's something you strive for. At the <a href="http://www.officialvikingssale.com/...h-jersey-c-2_15.html">http://www.officialvikingssale.com/...-2_15.html</a> same time, I realize I'm not there now. It's great that people say you've got some talent, but I don't put much into those talks. It doesn't matter if you don't perform.

"I'm so focused on our team and winning. Whether it's this year, next year, the Lord has a good plan in store. Right now I'm here, and it's the only thing I'm thinking about."

Thorson made a leap as a redshirt sophomore last season, improving his completion percentage from 50.8 to 58.6 and his touchdown/interception split from 7/9 to 22/9.

As a redshirt in 2014, Thorson learned from Trevor Siemian, who struggled through injuries as a senior (58.2 completion percentage, 7 TDs, 11 INTs) but won the job with the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos two years later.

So Siemian is a role model for Thorson, but the original is Manning. Thorson wears his No. 18.

You can imagine Thorson's reaction when Archie Manning, Peyton's father, called to invite him to the Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La.

"It was a missed call," Thorson said. "I looked down at the transcription: 'Hey, Clayton, it's Archie Manning.' Oh, no!"

Thorson, one of 40 players at the academy, got to chat with Peyton and brother Eli many times. His takeaway?

"How they handled their teammates when something went wrong," Thorson said. "There are times you yell, but you can't embarrass your teammates in front of everyone."

The NU offense loses Biletnikoff Award finalist Austin Carr but returns the vast majority of linemen and playmakers, including tailback Justin Jackson and superback Garrett Dickerson.

"Last year you saw an amazing maturation in <a href="http://www.authenticcowboyssale.com/...in-jersey-c-2_6.html">Zack Martin Youth Jersey</a> Clayton's game," Fitzgerald said. "He went down to the Manning Camp and thrived. I look forward to a special season from him."

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