NORMAN, Okla. — It's hard to believe that Michael Thompson is heading into his senior year at Oklahoma. It just seems like yesterday that Thompson was the starting at cornerback on the Sooners' national championship team. His future looked so promising until a car accident almost took his life.
Amazingly, Thompson showed tremendous resolve and character as he rehabilitated his way back onto the field to play last season. Thompson isn't the same player that he was before the accident as he no longer plays corner and has switched to safety. Safety is not a natural position for Thompson and the position switch has taken away some of his instincts, but his current abilities dictate that he plays safety.
However, Thompson always has a smile on his face and always seems content with his fate. If you didn't know that Thompson barely survived a terrible crash, you would never know it. Thompson is still one of the most popular players among his teammates, and I had a chance recently to talk to Thompson about his career and about what is ahead for him his senior season.
JH: It looks like to me that your skills are coming back. Are you all the way back?
MT: "Oh, yes, I am back. There is no part of me that isn't working or not working like it is supposed to. They have (OU strength and conditioning coaches) put in a lot of work to get me back to where I am. My teammates have also pushed me, so it has been a team effort and I am definitely back for real."
JH: You are still having fun aren't you?
MT: Oh yeah, I am loving it. It is great that I get to play my last season with just six hours of school before I graduate. My earliest class is about 11:30 a.m., and that is on Tuesday and Thursday. So, yeah, my life right now is great. have all my teammates and I am feeling good. My coach (Mike Stoops) is working with me and everything is starting to click. I am just going to take it as it goes and that is okay with me right now."
JH: I know there has been some talk that you might switch back to corner. Is that something that we will see next season?
MT: "It could change day-to-day. I will be the first to tell you that Mike Stoops puts players where he thinks they can most help the team. I have been at free, strong, dime and corner, so I don't know where I will be. Wherever I fit in is where I will play."
JH: How are the workouts going at this point?
MT: "Very intense. We don't do a lot of long distance stuff, but everything that we do is at 100 percent. We run from station-to-station, our weight room is hot and we go very hard and then they give us plenty of time to get our fluids back, because you lose so much fluid. It is real intense and, in fact, I have never seen it this intense."
JH: What are your goals for your senior year?
MT: "My main goal is to come out and help my team. I want us to win a championship, because everybody knows anything less than a championship is a failure around here. As long as I am out there doing my part, or doing what I can, it will be at my very best."
JH: It seems like this team is very together right now?
MT: "We are very together and our goal is the same for each player. We all know what it takes to win a national championship. We are always around each other. We know that we have great fan support, but when it comes down to it on gameday all you have is that teammate standing next to you. If you can't get along with me, you are not going to win on Saturday."
JH: Since the accident you have made great strides, but you have not been able to work your way back into the starting line-up or even in the rotation. How frustrating has that been for you?
MT: "At first it was very frustrating. I am not going to lie to you, it is still very frustrating. When I first rejoined the team I wasn't looking at it the right way. We have so much depth and so much talent that when you take a year off like I did you can't help but have players come up and pass you on the depth chart. We have that much talent. So, I am mad about the situation, but I am not, because we have the talent and we have the team. However, I really want to be back out there. So, whatever I have to do to get back out there I am doing to do."
JH: What kind of hopes do you have for this season?
MT: A championship baby. That is the only goal we have around here. Nothing changes any season as championships are all that we ever want."
JH: Don't you feel that the secondary is one of the big strengths of the team?
MT: Yes sir, I really do. We lost 'Dre' (Andre Woolfolk) last season and he was a great corner, but we have so much talent coming back that we will be alright at his spot. He is going to do big things in the NFL, but we have enough talent to take over at corner and maybe be even better. The secondary is good enough to lead us all the way."
Thompson ready for senior year
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