Thompson steps up in Red-White game

Quarterback turned receiver Paul Thompson talks with Sooners Illustrated about his impressive Red-White game. Thompson led the Sooners with 83 receiving yards on four catches. (AP Photo/Jerry Laizure)

Senior wide receiver Paul Thompson had a solid spring game, catching four passes for 82 yards. He is continuing to make progress in his transition from quarterback to receiver, and Tony Sellars had a chance to talk to him following the Red-White contest.

Sellars: Totally different situation from last spring. Then you were battling Rhett Bomar for the starting quarterback position, now you're catching passes from him and battling for playing time at wide receiver. How do you feel you did today?

Thompson: I think it went pretty well. The main things I wanted to do are focus on my route running and just try to get open. I think I was able to accomplish that more than I have in the past. And work on my timing with the quarterback and I think I was able to do that today.

Sellars: You had an early drop, but then you had a couple of tough catches in traffic, including the deep pass you managed to take away from Reggie Smith. Talk about that.

Thompson: It was just a great throw really. I was able to work my way around Reggie and Rhett just laid it in there. I didn't have to do too much work besides scramble a little bit with Reggie. But Rhett made a great throw and the offensive line gave us enough time to get the ball up and we made the play.

Sellars: You talk about route running. I was impressed with a move you made late in the game. You do a quick turn in and really drive Reggie off the ball to create some space.

Thompson: That's the thing. Coach Sumlin has really done a great job of helping me come along. When I first jumped to receiver, I was pretty far behind the rest of the guys as far as knowledge of the position. So Coach Sumlin has done a great job of just helping me advance in my route running and just knowing the position.

Sellars: It's not just being fast and outrunning the defensive backs. You have to create some separation.

Thompson: That's right. It's definitely a lot different than what I thought it was when I was at quarterback. There's a lot more that goes into it, a lot of things you don't really see as a fan that are vital to us getting off the ball and getting open on routes.

Sellars: I know you're concentrating on advancing in your career at wide receiver, but how often do you go back to the very first play last season and think about that pass to Travis Wilson and how things might have been different if you had been able to complete that throw.

Thompson: Who knows? I don't really think about the past too much. There are a lot of people who have made a lot of plays since then and who knows what would have happened if I would have connected with that pass. You can't really harp on it too much in the past. I'm just looking forward right now.

Sellars: And you've had the opportunity to change positions and right now, it seems to be working out for you.

Thompson: Yeah, it's going real well. It's the position I wanted to go to when the quarterback thing didn't work out and it's paying off for me.

Sellars: What about the up back position in the punt formation? Is that somewhere that we might be able to see your quarterback skills sometime next season?

Thompson: That's definitely going to keep the defense from rushing a couple of times with that threat back there. That's just something we're adding in.

Sellars: Are you happy that Joey Halzle's coming on so that definitely there's a backup quarterback and you can concentrate solely on receiver?

Thompson: Yeah, either way, I'm done quarterbacking here, except maybe in a severe emergency disaster I might have to go in there for a play. But right now, I'm good where I'm at and we've got guys at the quarterback position that can execute for us.

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