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Five games into his freshman year, Hugh Thornton hadn't set foot on the field during a game. But in an instant, his redshirt was dropped ,and he moved into the starting lineup at right tackle. He's been there ever since. Today, he plays his first college game in his home state.
Q: Two games in Ohio this season. Did you know that when you signed?
A: I did know that after looking at the schedule and I was pretty excited.
Q: There are no games in the state next season, but two in Michigan. Close enough?
A: That's close enough. I feel there are a lot of friends and family that will come. Michigan's a big rival of Ohio and Illinois.
Q: Will there be a bunch of Thorntons in Cincinnati?
A: I'm not sure. I look forward to seeing a lot of my friends, though. I get four tickets, but I need 12 to 15.
Q: You grew up in Idaho. What was life like in the Potato State?
A: Idaho's different. A lot of the population is bunched together and the rest is rural. It's not a big-city state. But it's got a nice vibe. It was a good place to grow up. I lived in Meridian, which is about a 15-minute commute to Boise.
Q: Did you do Idaho-type things?
A: Definitely. In the winter, I went snowboarding. In the summer, it was jet skiing and tubing.
Q: Do you miss Idaho?
A: Sometimes I do. But I like where I'm at now.
Q: Should Boise State play for the national title?
A: I believe that if they finish undefeated, they should get a chance to.
Q: Do you know any of the Boise State players?
A: Yes. I played with Tyler Shoemaker in high school. I played against Byron Hout, the guy who got punched (after the Oregon game).
Q: Did you grow up rooting for the Broncos?
A: Yes. You've got Boise State and Idaho fans. I grew up rooting for Boise State.
Q: Have you ever been on the blue field?
A: I have. My sophomore year, I played for Boise High School, and that was our home stadium. We weren't that good. It's just a different feeling. The field plays with your mind a little bit. After about a quarter, you forget about it.
Q: How did you end up in Ohio?
A: I was born in Idaho and lived there until about 2. Then I moved to Ohio until second grade. Then I moved down to Jamaica and was there until seventh grade. After that, I moved back to Idaho, and after my junior year, I moved back to Ohio. My grandma lives there. So does my aunt and my sisters.
Q: Did you instantly like the Buckeyes?
A: Not really. I wasn't into football that much. I was a fair-weather fan. I always liked LSU and USC.
Q: Why did you pick Illinois?
A: The atmosphere. I like the coaches and the players.
Q: What's your favorite thing about C-U?
A: The people. It's similar to Oberlin.
Q: Least favorite?
A: I don't think I have a least favorite thing.
Q: What did you think when the coaches first suggested ending your redshirt?
A: I was excited. For me to go out and start as a freshman, losing the redshirt didn't bother me. As long as it wasn't the last game of the season.
Q: You went immediately into the lineup.
A: It made me a little more excited and nervous. I didn't want to mess up and let anybody down.
Q: Has it been harder or easier than you thought?
A: After the first play, it got easier.
Q: How much help has Jon Asamoah been?
A: Without Jon, I probably wouldn't have decent games. He's helped me learn the schemes. He's been friendly. There's times where he gets a little rough with me at times.
Q: What would you grade yourself so far?
A: I've had some good games, but I've always made some mistakes. If I had to give myself a grade, I would probably say 75 percent. A good score is probably 90, 95.
Q: What do you want to do post football?
A: I want to work with kids. I plan to work with teens in the inner cities, using sports as a way to get them out. Teacher is a possibility.
Q: How would you do if Illinois gave you the ball as a running back?
A: I wouldn't want the ball. That's a lot of responsibility. I think Jon (Asamoah) wants the ball.
Q: Who are tougher, offensive linemen or defensive linemen?
A: Offensive linemen. They have to block the defensive linemen.
Q: Who are smarter, offensive linemen or linebackers?
A: Hands down, offensive linemen. We have a better head on our shoulders.
Q: Who does better with women, offensive linemen or running backs?
A: Again, I've got to go offensive linemen. We're doing great.
Q: You were a two-time Idaho state wrestling champion. Are you going to go help Jim Heffernan's team after the season?
A: I'm not sure. I haven't talked to the coaches about it, but I've thought about it a little bit. It would be fun.
Q: What would a win against Cincinnati mean?
A: For me, winning against a team from Ohio would be a big deal. For the team, we deserve it because we've worked so hard.
Q: Other than Asamoah, which of the seniors are you going to miss the most?
A: I'd have to say Chris Duvalt. He's pretty funny.
Q: Other than yourself, who is your favorite Hugh?
A: Hugh Jackman, Wolverine. I like Wolverine a lot. I get called them all. I get a lot of Hugh Hefners.
Q: In a few questions, we're going to ask you to tell us something people don't know about you. But first, tell us something people don't know about one of your teammates.
A: Tyler Sands does not shower after practice. That's terrible. Bad hygiene. He should definitely shower after practice. He just doesn't. He doesn't like to shower here. He doesn't shower very often.
Q: Who is your favorite female entertainer?
A: Megan Fox.
Q: A night on the town with Megan Fox or 500 yards of offense in a win against Cincinnati?
A: A win against Cincinnati, definitely. Got to say goodbye, Megan.
Q: Tell us something people don't know about you.
A: When I won the state championship, that was just my third year wrestling. The guy that I beat in the finals, he beat me five times in the regular season. I got even.