Hugh Thornton hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2015 and retired before the 2017 season due to an ankle injury. But the Boise native is making a comeback.
The Washington Redskins signed the 28-year-old offensive lineman Wednesday during a flurry of moves to reshuffle their offensive line depth.
“They told me to show up ready to work, and that’s what I am,” Thornton told a group of reporters at Redskins training camp Wednesday. “I’m an offensive lineman at heart. All I want to do is work and help the team succeed anyway I can. I’m here to work.”
A third-round pick in 2013, Thornton started 32 of 37 games as a guard with the Indianapolis Colts from 2013 to 2015. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2017 offseason but never played a down before a lingering ankle injury forced him into retirement at 25 years old in May 2017.
“At the moment, I just knew that I had to step away for a second to get healthy, get out of that environment and focus on my health — physical, spiritual, emotional, everything. Just get right,” Thornton said.
He told reporters he got the itch to play again immediately and began training for a comeback. He played with the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football this spring before the league folded, and got a call from the Redskins as they battle training camp holdouts and injuries.
“I just kept training, kept putting one foot in front of the other and God answered,” Thornton said. “I got the opportunity, and I’m here.”
Born in Boise, Thornton attended junior high and high school in the Treasure Valley from the seventh through 11th grades. He played football at Mountain View and Boise High, and won a 5A heavyweight state wrestling title as a junior at Mountain View in 2008.
He then moved to Oberlin, Ohio, for his senior year of high school before signing with the University of Illinois.