#1 ranked U.S. wrestler changes focus to football

<b>Part 1 of 2</b> <p> Why in the world would the country's #1 ranked wrestler -- 135-pound weight class who achieved this lofty distinction as a <b><i>high school sophomore</i></b> -- suddenly decide to gain weight, shift gears and focus on football instead? Because he's that good.

"He" is Tyson Thompson, an African-American LDS athlete who will be a junior this fall at Lehi High School in Lehi, Utah. "He" is an uncommon three-sport athlete who has impressed friends and foes alike.

As a standout wrestling, football and baseball athlete, Thompson burst onto the national wrestling scene as a freshman and won the Utah state championship while finishing 6th at the national championships two years ago in his weight class.

"I went to nationals this year and placed second in the country. There was another national tournament called the Cliff King Tournament and I won that one."

Thompson said the athlete who beat him at the nationals this year has moved up to a heavier weight class, leaving him atop his weight grouping for now. Ironically, his 40-4 overall record and on-the-mat performances have catapulted Thompson to prominence in a sport he does not consider his favorite.

"I've been wrestling for a long time, but I want to concentrate on football more. It's more fun," said Thompson. "I just like the contact and like the running."

At 5' 9" and 155-pounds, Thompson's size and stature may not impress anybody at first glance. At second glance, however, his 4.3 forty speed, 15 interceptions and 910 rushing yards as a sophomore two-way starter would raise all kinds of coaching eyebrows. And virtually no one outside Utah knows about him as a football prospect.

"I got clocked at 4.3 for the forty today by my head coach, Joe Hayes," Thompson told TotalBlueSports.com yesterday.

Playing both running back and safety for Lehi High, Thompson put up some impressive numbers on both sides of the ball his sophomore year.

"This year, coach said I ran for around 910 yards on offense. I'm more of a north and south runner. I don't like to go side to side, but straight up."

What about his defensive stats?

"I had 15 interceptions on defense (last season). Yeah, I think that's a school record. I like it when people come across the middle," he said in the understatement of the interview.

Thompson said he is not going to keep the weight off for wrestling. Instead, he will try to gain weight while maintaining his speed.

"I'm going to try and get bigger and focus more on football. I'm lifting hard. I'm trying to put weight on. I bench 205 and squat 306 right now."

Thompson plans on showing college football coaches his abilities by attending a NIKE camp later this year.

"I'm going to go to the NIKE camp in November at Palo Alto. I'm also going to go to the Wing T Camp at Olympus High School. It's a camp for offense like the one we run at Lehi," said Thompson.

Currently, Thompson carries a 3.0 GPA and said he likes both in-state Division 1 football programs at BYU and Utah. He added he also follows the Virgina Tech and Florida football programs.

Thompson said he has current plans to serve a LDS Church mission.

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