Phone and foot traffic at Parkway (Mo.) North reached a fevered pitch this winter thanks to the presence of one of the top prospects in the class of 2018. Four-star defensive lineman Michael Thompson has seen the attention shown him by college coaches ramp up considerably since the summer. The talented youngster’s standout junior season helped grow his offer tally to 22, and the number appears to be rising by the day.
"We did good,” Thompson said of his team. “We went to the final four. I had 90 tackles, 14 sacks, and I had two forced fumbles too."
Thompson’s list of suitors reads like a who’s who, with names like Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Iowa, and Penn State among the notables. None have grabbed the distinction of being named his favorite yet, but he has begun forming strong bonds with coaches from a few of them.
"I'm good with the defensive line coach from Ole Miss,” he said. “Coach Forest at Missouri. Coach Ward from Illinois. From Ohio State, Mark Pantoni and kind of Coach Meyer.”
Michigan has also begun making its mark. The Wolverines’ courtship gained momentum when they offered last year and Thompson followed up by visiting Ann Arbor for the decisive 49-10 victory over Penn State.
"The atmosphere is just crazy,” recalled Thompson. “It looks fun to play in. I didn't really get to tour the place though because I came kind of late. I spent a little bit of time with the defensive line coach after the game."
"Their defensive line dominated that game. It was probably why they won how they did."
The combination of stellar defensive line play and the guidance of a coach he considers to be among the best in the country has Thompson looking upon the Maize & Blue in a favorable light.
"I like Coach Harbaugh for sure,” he said. “I like their defense… how they move (and) rotate their players out. They play a lot of people that are true freshmen (and) I'm trying to play as a true freshman. I haven't really been around (the program very much), so I don't know what everything is like. That's something I'm looking forward to doing."
And Michigan isn’t the only place he is looking to get back to. He has also been to Iowa, Missouri, Iowa State, Alabama, and Ole Miss, and wants to visit many of them again. In fact, Thompson will head back to Missouri Sunday. After that his itinerary is up in the air.
“I'm just planning visits,” he said. “I don't really think about them ahead of time."
The Show Me State Star is playing his trip plan by ear, and is doing the same with his recruitment in general. “Feel” will go a long way toward determining where he goes. While many prospects base that comfort factor on the bells and whistles, Thompson said he will be influenced more by the relationships he forms.
"I think everybody has good facilities,” he said. “One thing that's going to make my choice off of is the coaches. Everywhere they're going to have good facilities."
Thompson plans to take his time assessing where his bonds are the strongest. He will announce his decision on national signing day.