Already growing accustomed to the role of student-athlete, Clayton Thorson did plenty of homework before choosing Northwestern University to continue his football career.
The Wheaton North junior quarterback weighed 13 scholarship offers and visited several schools before giving Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on Sunday.
With the decision made early, one of the state's top players in the Class of 2014 is now off the table.
"Me and my family talked about it quite a bit," Thorson said. "We felt it'd be best to play in the Big Ten, and in the end Northwestern was the best choice for me."
Thorson is the latest Wheaton football player to head to Northwestern. The list includes Wheaton North graduate Mike Trumpy and Wheaton Warrenville South's Dan Vitale, who hosted Thorson during his recent visit to the Evanston campus.
In addition to six Big Ten offers, Thorson also drew offers from Mississippi, North Carolina State and Kansas. With a variety of different opportunities, Thorson took his time but inevitably knew Northwestern was the right spot.
After making his commitment, Thorson contacted each of the other schools that offered him scholarships to thank them for their interest.
"I don't think Northwestern will ever regret recruiting Clayton," said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski. "They're getting a kid who plays the game the right way."
Before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, Thorson split time at receiver and quarterback with all-DuPage Valley Conference signalcaller Johnny Peltz.
Thorson completed 32 of 44 passes for 401 yards and 7 touchdowns against only 1 interception. He also caught 36 passes for 578 yards and 4 touchdowns while rushing for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Thorson, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 190 pounds, had the chance to attract additional offers from now through next season but didn't feel the need to wait. Everything kept coming back to Northwestern.
"I felt like Northwestern would prepare me best for the next four or five years and into the future," he said. "It's definitely a relief to be able to focus on my team and my teammates and trying to win a state title next season."
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