So far so good for Mark Thompson.
"I’m getting a lot of good likes my o-line," said Thompson after Wednesday's practice. "They’re doing a heckuva job. I’m catching the ball out of the backfield, picking up blitzes on pass protection, just doing the overall job of a running back.”
Thompson is a JUCO transfer to Florida, so you can say he received quite a welcome by the Gators and an SEC style practice.
“It’s a huge jump, a huge jump,"said the running back from Pennsylvania. "My teammates are very much making it easy for me. They’re not letting me slack or take any time. That’s what they’re there for. That’s why I play for them, they play for me.”
The pace has really been a major difference Thompson has seen so far.
“Just sprinting everywhere. There’s no time off. It’s the SEC and primarily University of Florida football is everything. They don’t want anyone slacking off. That’s a big thing in JC. Guys tend to slack off, but I’m easily getting out of that funk and getting up with the tempo of everyone else.
"You can’t come to practice with a practice mentality," added Thompson. "You have to come to practice thinking ‘These are my opponents,’ even though we’re brothers, we’ve got to compete and make each other better.”
The red-shirt junior has huge praise for Gators head coach Jim McElwain.
“Coach McElwain is a heckuva coach," he said. "He told me a lot of real things coming out of JC. Things outside of football. Obviously, after football you have to lead a regular life. Football will be done with you before you’re done with football. So being a man, being accountable, everything that relates on the field translates to real life.”
With the help of the staff, Thompson hopes to accomplish the goals he has set for himself.
“I would definitely like to get the ball first game, every game," he said. "You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get. Every play could be your last, every game could be your last. You never know what’s going to happen. Every opportunity you have to make the most of it.”
Although having the ball in the first ball first is a priority, he understands the backfield is loaded with competition.
"I’ve got some stiff competition," he said. "All these guys have been here, but I’m catching up speed and I’ll be on field in no time."
Thompson should see the field in 2016, especially with his versatility.
“My running style is versatile, I can lower my pads," he said. "I’m working on that, they’re making me do that. It’s something a little new to me, but it isn’t hard. Again 240, the size I am, I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I’m a little shifty. I grew up, not grew up, with Sean McCoy, Shady, the Eagles’ player. I took some moves from him. I can do about all of it.”