Badgers' QB Thornbro makes most of Top Gun Showcase in Ohio
PRESCOTT HIGH QUARTERBACK BLAKE THORNBRO, a 17-year-old senior, said he learned a lot from participating in the Top Gun Showcase, a position-specific training camp for standout prep football athletes held July 17-19 in Dublin, Ohio, near the state capital of Columbus.
At the camp, put on by a company called Football University (FBU), the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Thornbro received 20 hours of training and development from a staff including former NFL coaches and players. FBU coaches assisted Thornbro in improving his technique and skill in a small-group setting with other QBs of his size, speed and ability.
"It was really great being around all the coaches who either played or coached in the NFL at some point," Thornbro said from PHS on Tuesday. "So it was really, really good coaching, and just the exposure of the players. We were in 7-on-7 one time and I looked up, and both safeties were five-star recruits, one going to Alabama, one going to Florida State."
Thornbro was invited to the Top Gun camp in Ohio after performing well at another FBU camp in Austin, Texas. One of 1,600 athletes at the Ohio camp, Thornbro was initially nominated for Top Gun by FBU coaches Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, a former NFL Pro Bowl receiver, and Jeff Rutledge, a former NFL back-up QB. Rutledge, who lives in the Phoenix area, was Thornbro's QB coach at the Austin camp.
In Ohio, Thornbro said he learned how to better read defensive coverages, analyzing how players line up on the field for different plays, among other things. Thornbro said the camp primarily consisted of attending motivational seminars, participating in taped practice sessions, and breaking down film from those sessions in a classroom setting.
"That really helped," he added.
The Badgers concluded their 2015 summer camp this past Thursday at PHS. Thornbro missed the tail end of the conditioning camp, but he said the team showed strides.
"When you spend nine hours a day together for a week, you get pretty close-knit," he added.
Thornbro first played football at Granite Mountain Middle School as a seventh grader in 2010. He said he was undersized and didn't get much playing time, although he got better his eighth-grade year and later as a sophomore on PHS's JV team.
On the Badgers' 2014 varsity roster, Thornbro was a third-string QB listed at 5-6 and 130 pounds. He played in less than a handful of games in his first varsity season last fall, but he hopes to be named Prescott's starting signal caller come late August.
Thornbro, a pocket passer who can run in the open field when called upon, has recently been working out with Rutledge during private lessons in Phoenix.
"He's been as good (of a coach) as anybody I've ever had," Thornbro said of Rutledge. "He really understands the form of throwing, and he really preaches consistency. I hope to keep going to him."
If he can impress as a senior at PHS, Thornbro said he'd like to play for an NCAA Division 2 or 3 program, most likely out-of-state, and eventually work in the front office of a sports team.
"I'm talking to 10 or 20 Division 3's (programs) and a couple Division 2's," he added about competing at the next level. "It's definitely going to be a possibility."
OFFICIAL PRESEASON PRACTICES for Prescott, Bradshaw Mountain, Chino Valley, Mayer and Bagdad high schools' varsity football teams are slated for the first week of August.
Following are dates and times for the initial practices and season openers for these local programs.
Prescott: The Badgers and coach Cody Collett will start preseason practices Aug. 3-7, and go from 3 to 5 p.m. each day at the high school.
Prescott hosts a scrimmage at 6 p.m. Aug. 19, nine days before Camelback visits Bill Shepard Field for the Badgers' 2015 season opener. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Aug. 28.
Bradshaw Mountain: The Bears and coach David Moran begin their preseason practices from 2:45-5:15 p.m. Aug. 3 and will continue that schedule every day that week, through Friday, Aug. 7, at the high school in Prescott Valley.
The Bears will then conduct their Black and Red intra-squad scrimmage at 6 p.m. Aug. 14.
They will follow up the intra-squad scrimmage with a four-way scrimmage vs. Boulder Creek, Kellis and Trevor Browne at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at Bob Pavlich Field in PV.
Bradshaw opens the 2015 season at home versus Arcadia on Aug. 28. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Pavlich Field.
Chino Valley: The Cougars and coach Wade Krug, who wound up holding preseason camp at Del Rio Elementary instead of the high school last week, will open preseason practices the first week of August.
Chino kicks off the 2015 season at home against Kingman at 7 p.m. Aug. 28.
Mayer: The Wildcats and coach Rick Lashley will begin preseason practices from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and continue through the rest of the week at Mathern Field next to the high school's campus in Spring Valley.
Mayer will play a scrimmage at Superior the week of Aug. 16 in preparation for its season/home opener versus Anthem Prep at 7 p.m. Aug. 28.
Bagdad: The defending Division 6 state runner-up Sultans and coach Dalton Mills begin official practices next Monday, July 27, because they are hosting a Week Zero game vs. San Pasqual at 7 p.m. Aug. 21.
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