Mark Thompson knew it was going to be a great atmosphere at Florida and at The Swamp, but he really had no idea what it would really be like.
“It was fantastic… great, it was everything I thought it would be and more,” the 6-foot-2, 230 pound blazer of a bulldozer said. “The Swamp was crazy. That was actually my first big college football game. The crowd was as loud as loud can be. I don’t know how the players play in all of that, but when you are on the field you don’t hear all that. Being in the south end zone and seeing and hearing all of that I got to experience how live and intense it is and how the fans get, because the fans are right behind you screaming the whole time and going crazy.”
Thompson arrived on a Friday for his official visit, and with everything going on to prepare for a big game, he got to see things a little differently than the last time he visited in the summer. He talked about his interactions with the players.
“The weekend was a little different,” he said. “I got to see them in game mode and be around them for a good amount of the day. You would think with the loss they would be real somber and sad and nobody wanted to do anything, but they had me paired with Thomas Holley from New York and I’m from Philadelphia. I had a real good time with him. He told me how the school was and what to do and what not to do… how to have a good time and stay focused and help the team out.
“The players were great, I hear form some other recruits that go to places and say the football was good but outside of football there isn’t much to do. Hanging out with them, they were a great bunch of guy, staff included. I just can’t wait to get down there.”
He understands the situation along the offensive line where they are still young and relatively inexperienced group, but saw some things that have him excited. It is an offense that will be good for him.
“The offensive line, the young guys played a fantastic game,” he said. “That was Florida State and not an easy team to play against. They are young and will only get better. I think they come back next year and fire on all cylinders. I feel it is tough when the quarterback is 5-foot-9 and the line is 6-foot-5. It is no easy job when playing quarterback, but it is a learning experience.
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“They will be fine and have nothing to worry about in Gainesville. Like I said I just can’t wait to be a part of it.”
The staff has been busy trying to prepare Thompson for the step up to SEC football. Things move a bit quicker at this level.
“They are telling me it is a different pace,” he said. “They talk about how the defenses will stop you if you keep giving them the same look every time. With Florida, all the backs are fantastic running backs and great coaches coaching them. The only thing they lack is a change of pace; (the backs) are all about 5-9, or 5-10. With me coming in, I am a little bigger and faster, I can come in and have an instant impact. They know I am ready to go and can see I am ready to go.”
Talking to Thompson is a pleasure. He is very humble and speaks his mind about things, and understands what his role needs to be on the football field.
“I am someone who is a positive man off the field as well as on the field and in the classroom,” he said. “I will show up on Saturdays and leave it all on the field. The defenders are going to feel me every time when they put me in I will put my head down. That crowd will feel me too. I just hope that all 90,000 plus are behind me and I know they will be.”
Thompson told me today (Thursday) that he just cancelled an official visit he had scheduled for Alabama this weekend. The Crimson Tide have been recruiting him very hard for a while now. It was just going to be a visit and he says he is “locked in” to Florida and ready to get started.