Thompson expects big year

Many have wondered who will be the surprise player this upcoming season. Mitch Mathews was the pick over spring camp to make some waves this season, and it now appears many have caught on during fall camp. But who will be the unexpected player to make an impact this season?

Sure, one can argue that Ross Apo could be that surprise player to have a big year, and that might be the case. However, Apo is currently trying to regain his first-team status by making his way up the depth chart over Skyler Ridley. There's no doubt that Apo will play a role in this year's offense, but how much of a role is still uncertain.

One could also pick Mitch Mathews, and they'd be wise to do so. Mathews is a monster in the making, but those that have followed the progress reports from last spring already expect the 6-foot-6-inch, 200-pound wide receiver to make some noise this coming season. Fall camp reports confirm what was projected last spring, which brings us to a different possibility in Brett Thompson.

"I think that's a really good pick," said quarterback Taysom Hill. "Personally I've been waiting for someone to step up there at the inside receiver position. Brett Thompson made that move and transition to play tight end or inside receiver. When you get someone who was an outside receiver matched up on the inside against an outside backer, that creates a lot of mismatches. I love the matchup there."

Naturally, Thompson agrees that picking him as a breakout player was a good one.

"I think it's a great pick!" Thompson said with a smile. "You know, it is kind of fun going up against the linebackers and feel there's a mismatch as far as speed and just kind of getting past them. Once you get around the linebackers the field just seems to open up."

"Yeah, I think it's a great pick and I would do the same thing, especially inside, because he's new there," said Hill. "I mean, that guy matched up against backers is unfair. He was banged up and was kind of nursing a few injuries over spring and summer, so we didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to work with him, but he's got that mentality to continue to work and get to where he needs to be to be successful."

Over spring camp, Thompson showed his route-running ability on the inside.

"Before I moved inside I played the z-receiver position," said Thompson. "I went up against cornerbacks, and at that position you stretch the field and have to worry about beating smaller, quicker cornerbacks. If there's a foot race I feel I have an advantage there now going up against bigger defenders. The one thing that I have to adjust is now being more physical in my route running because I'm going up against those linebackers. When I play more physical I'm able to create more separation in my routes even more than just beating guys with just speed. When I use both attributes it really helps me even more."

However, the offensive coaching staff used Thompson sparingly after he suffered an injury. He's just now starting to get back into the full swing of the offense.

"I had a slight tear in my quad and I was able to play with that tear because the other muscles were able to compensate for that muscle that was torn, but I wasn't playing at my full potential because of that problem," said Thompson. "I have been cleared to play. It's just a matter of getting that one specific muscle strong again.

"Yeah, this second week of camp I definitely feel a different with the pain. To be honest I don't feel any pain whatsoever as I run. I feel really good now and now it's just a matter of getting myself up to speed. The coaches did a great job of managing how I practice and that's allowed me to heal up really well."

By the time BYU squares off against Virginia, he'll be 100 percent ready to go.

"My status right now is I feel really good," he said. "The coaches have been smart with the amount of reps that I've received throughout camp. It's given me an opportunity to progress as far as getting my health back to 100 percent. I feel like going into game one I'll be 100 percent."

Thompson is already in a position of advantage when it comes to creating mismatches, but he still has to have proper technique to go along with his athleticism.

"I think what it really comes down to me is I have trust in my athletic ability, but I think I want to come into the season with knowing my assignment and having the technique of an inside receiver," Thompson said. "Putting that technique with what I feel like are the abilities I have, I should be a pretty dominant receiver inside."

BYU fans could see the quick, 6-foot-3-inch receiver playing multiple positions on the inside. Thompson is also receiving time at the h-receiver position.

"I'll definitely be more of a y-receiver, but I do know the h-receiver position," said Thompson. "J.D. [Falslev] will be primarily our h-receiver on the inside, but if he ever needed a break I can definitely come inside and play that h-receiver position and allow multiple tight ends or receivers to play the y-receiver position.

"I have been getting reps there, so there is some cross-training going on. I would imagine it could just depend on how fresh the h-receiver is and if he's able to continue to play at a high level. I just think it will depend mostly on how fresh the h-receiver is that will determine how many reps I get at the h-receiver position, but there is some cross-training there and I could see some time. It just all depends."

Against the University of Virginia on August 31, Thompson will suit up with plans of having an outstanding season. It's been a while since Thompson made any real contribution to the team, and this year he plans on doing just that.

"It's been a long time and I'm ready to go," Thompson said. "It's been since 2009 that I was really involved in a game. I'm just anxious and really excited to get going and for the opportunity that I now have. I think everything is lining up for me to have a really good season. I'm playing a position that will give me an edge and I'm feeling healthy now.

"The speed that we play at, I mean, I don't think there will be anybody that will be able to keep up with the speed and tempo that we have. As we go fast and out-execute, I think we'll be unstoppable."

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