Phoenix Receiver Becomes ASU's Latest 2003 Signee

Phoenix South Mountain's Tyrice Thompson was all set to embark on his football career at the University of Massachusetts. However, with the help of some former teammates, he will join a long list of local prep starts who will don the maroon and gold. In this exclusive DevilsDigest interview, Thompson talks about his unlikely journey to Tempe.

The wide receiver told us that ASU was always interested in his services, but other circumstances prevented him from receiving a scholarship offer from the hometown team. "They told me that they always wanted me." Says Thompson, "But they said they had plans for their scholarships and they didn't know how they could fit me in. ASU told me that they didn't want to give me a scholarship and be stuck. They didn't want to leave me high and dry because they weren't sure." The South Mountain standout also admitted that his academics played a significant part as well. "I wasn't qualified until recently. ASU probably waited to see if I was gonna qualify before they offered me."

Left with virtually no options, Thompson signed with the University of Massachusetts." I was prepared to go anywhere I needed to go play. I was cool with playing at Umass. My parents and friends were the ones stressing. I wasn't worried." However, the timing of his signature allowed him to still keep his options open. "I did sign with Umass, but I only signed on April 6. Because I didn't sign 14 days (or less) after the signing date – the letter wasn't legally binding. So that made a free agent." Ironically, should he had gone there he would be hooking up on the field with 2001 Sun Devil starting signal caller Jeff Krohn. "I met with Jeff Krohn. Him and I threw the ball around a little when he was down here. We became friendly, and I was gonna be his roommate if I went there." After his signing with ASU, Coach Koetter volunteered to break the news to the Minutemen coach. "Coach Koetter is good friends with the coach, and he was very understanding. He said he would do the same thing if he were in my shoes."

Thompson said that even though he attended many home games, as well as practices, he in no way felt that he could end up playing with his former high school teammates. "I went to watch the team a lot. But I never got a sign that I'll be going to ASU, so I just left it alone." South Mountain currently has three representatives on ASU's squad: De'Andre Johnson, Joey Smith, and Jason Shivers. Thompson is naturally very close to all three, and is actually a partial owner in Jason Shivers' landscaping company. ("Business is a good." Thompson says) the later two, especially defensive leader Shivers; nagged Koetter and his staff enough to give Thompson a serious look the last few months. "Jason and Joey are my boys! They were in Coach Koetter's ear the whole time. Jason is a big reason why I'm at ASU. He saw me running and practicing my routes, and he was real impressed. He told Coach Koetter: ‘you have to get him. He's looks too good (smile)' He and Joey stayed on him, and that's why I'm at ASU."

The newest ASU signee mentioned that the Devils have been pressing hard for the last few weeks to have him join his former Jaguars teammates. "The coaches called me and said: ‘we need a big wide receiver. You know we've been looking at you (smile)… If we had a scholarship for you will you take it?' I said yes. They did what they had to do on their side and it worked out."

Aside from wanting to play with his buddies, Thompson is excited to join a team on the rise, which happens to play an exciting brand of football. "I like where the team is going. I like Koetter. He's very smart, and the offense is very efficient." Thompson's 6-4.5 205 frame along with his 4.5 speed can prove to be a very attractive option in a wide receiver core that has the potential to rate as one of the best in the conference. As far as redshirt possibilities this season, Thompson refuses to think in those terms. And if he needed any more motivation, the ASU coaches are definitely doing their part. "Coaches told me that it all depends at what you do at camp. They said I'm the biggest wide receiver we have, but they also said there's a 90% chance that I can redshirt. But I think deep down they're probably testing me (smile). Coach Koetter asked me if I'm ready for five years? I said I'm not gonna play here for five years (smile)! He wants to see if I lay down and just redshirt. I know I won't redshirt because I'm determined. Little things like that are just testing your mindset and getting you ready for camp."

Tyrice Thompson knows all about timing. At one point it was a hindrance that prevented him from being a more attractive option to ASU and other major programs, and later on it was the timing of his LOI signature and academic achievements that opened doors virtually closed to him in the past. These sequence of events allowed him to fly under the radar, and end up in what perhaps was his dream school all along. "I never signed with the NCAA clearing house, so I was kinda unknown. As a matter of the fact, Coach Koetter told Umass about me. Umass came to look at another wide receiver, and they didn't like him. So he told them to look at me. He told them that Tyrice Thompson was the biggest secret on the West Coast." In 2003 Sun Devil fans may just be pleasantly surprised with this timely recruiting gift.

Recruit Profile

Name

Tyrice Thompson

High School

South Mountain (Phoenix, AZ)

Position

WR (played TE and DE too)

Height

6-4.5

Weight

205

Date of Birth

4/2/85

Birthplace

Phoenix, AZ

Nickname

"Ty"

Favorite TV Show

"The Bernie Mac Show"

Favorite Movie

"Any Given Sunday"

Favorite Singer

"Jay-Z"

Favorite Food

"Any Cereal"

Favorite Drink

"Peach Tea"

Favorite Athlete

"Jason Shivers. If I had to pick someone from the pros it would be Jerry Rice."

Favorite Pro Team

"Oakland Raiders"

Person you most admire

"My father. He's very smart, and sometimes it's hard for me to comprehend where he's coming from because of the big age difference. He helped so many people. He coaches track and sent three athletes to the Olympics."

First Football Memory

"Wanting to quit Pop Warner because of the running (smile). The way I got over it was the first day of hitting drills. After I did that I knew this was my sport."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I'm very versatile in sports and in life. I play piano, I used to sing, and do stand up comedy. On the field, I can play wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, on the line..."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Jason Shivers"

Where do you want to be in ten years?

Have an NFL contract, and sitting back with Jason and my dad and fishing somewhere in a big boat (smile)."

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