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Texas welcomes LSU transfer Ray Thornton to bolster numbers at linebacker

LSU Tigers Ray Thornton rushes as Florida Gators offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor blocks during a 2018 game. Texas announced Wednesday that Thornton, a Killeen native, has transferred to play for the Longhorns in 2021.

Texas announced the arrival of transfer linebacker Ray Thornton from LSU on Wednesday. 

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder gives the Longhorns a veteran playmaker in an area that has some key returners but could use more depth. Thornton was used in pass-rush scenarios last season and had five tackles and two sacks in nine games.

Thornton has played virtually everywhere at linebacker, even getting time in the middle of a 4-3 base scheme. He played in six games in 2017, 12 games in 2018 and 14 games in 2019 as well. 

Thornton was rated the nation’s 61st-best overall prospect coming out of Killeen Shoemaker.

It’s still unclear who will be coaching linebackers, though. Coach Steve Sarkisian has filled out his coaching staff, which includes the hiring of Washington’s Peter Kwiatkowski as defensive coordinator. However, it’s not yet known who will coach linebackers. 

On a conference call with Texas alumni on Tuesday, Sarkisian said he hoped to formally announce his staff by week’s end.

Generally speaking, Sarkisian said he wouldn't constantly raid the NCAA transfer portal.

“If you looked at it like this, we have a need at a specific position, maybe you can use the portal as a stop-gap to get a veteran type of player until you can develop your own younger player,” Sarkisian told Texas Exes on Tuesday. 

“I don’t want to make a living in the portal,” Sarkisian added. “I’m not too into just bringing in outside players and dropping them into that.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.