"I'm feeling pretty good and it's definitely a bit of a challenge being back, knowing you're out of shape," said Thompson. "I've come back here with a new attitude."
At times Thompson has struggled adjusting to the speed of playing football again. He's not as quick in and out of his routes as before, but that's to be expected for a skill position player who spent two years away from football.
"I think just trying to keep my legs up with my mind," said Thompson. "My mind and my body right now are a little unbalanced. My mind is way ahead of my body and I know where I want to be, but my body just can't get there fast enough. That's been my biggest struggle."
In the skeli period of practice, Thompson has also struggled with being consistent in catching the ball. When receivers break on their routes, the football is usually already on its way. There is an adjustment period that a receiver must go through involving the eye-hand coordination of catching of footballs already in flight.
"I have to be patient now and work my way back by progressing each and every day," Thompson said. "I just have to get my timing down and feel for catching the ball. It's been tough because things happen so fast that you have to learn how to adjust back to that."
However, if there is anyone who fully understands what it takes to be a wide receiver at the highest level, it's Coach Cahoon. The coach also fully understands the challenges of taking two years off by serving a mission then having to regain the skills needed to succeed at the division one level.
"You know, I enjoyed having Coach Higgins but Coach Cahoon is someone that I really look up to," Thompson said. "He definitely leads by example and someone who knows what he's talking about. Everything he says he's done, so he knows what works and what doesn't work, whether you've been in the program for awhile or are trying to get things back."
Having played for Coach Higgins prior to his mission and now having Coach Cahoon upon his return, Thompson has noticed there are some similarities between two coaches in regards to expectations and position development.
"Something that Coach Higgins and Coach Cahoon had both done really well with us is that they expect us to be consistent in running our routes. That's pretty much the same. They want us to run our routes the exact same way every time. Also, they both make sure we're doing the little things. For example, the split matters or how wide our feet are when we line up on the line of scrimmage and our hand placement. Everything has to be precise if we are going to be the greatest."
He's also noticed the differences as well. Thompson sees a difference in how the receivers are being taught within their various positions on the field and the change in philosophy within the program.
"I love how the coaches are now and I love how Coach Cahoon expects us to be more fast-paced and expects us to catch on much quicker," Thompson said. "If we are expected to take this program to the next level, the coaches are the ones that will help us do that."
However, the biggest difference between now and before may be off the field on a more personal level, which Thompson feels will translate to better results on the field.
"The biggest difference between them is how much Coach Cahoon cares about us," Thompson said. "He's definitely someone who is easy to talk to and he's someone who really takes the time to know us on a personal level and really establishing a personal relationship with him.
"I think that's a big difference and I think it will help us be better as receivers because of that relationship. We have that relationship where we have no problem going to him and asking him questions or don't have any reservations about how to do what he expects of us."
The coaching style and differences don't stop there. Even in the film room, Thompson has seen a difference in the way they are coached. Rather than looking at the tendencies of a defender, the receivers are now being taught to focus on themselves within the route as well.
"I also think a big difference that is huge is when we watch film together," Thompson said. "Coach Cahoon teaches us and helps us to watch film differently than before. Like when we're running our routes he'll have us focus on our hips to make sure we're staying straight- and not giving away our routes- and making sure we're planting our foot.
"Just having a coach that has gone out and put into practice the things we are doing and knowing what does and doesn't work is huge for us. He can explain to us why something works and why something didn't work because he's done it and put it into practice."
In the meantime Thompson is taking a realistic approach to the upcoming season. He understands where he is physically and has a personal goal of steady progress. By fall he'll have a better picture of what his role will be for fall camp.
"Right now my goal is to just progress each day; to get better and better," Thompson said. "I know where I'm at right now with my body and I understand my situation. I just want to contribute this year and if that's by being out on the field running routes then that's what I want. If my situation is that I need to help those that will be on the field instead of me then that's my role this year. Fall camp will give me a better indication on what will happen with me this year."