Past Experience — Thompson finally found a home as a defensive end after not working out at four other positions. Under former coach Greg Schiano, Thompson bounced between outside linebacker, inside linebacker, defensive tackle and fullback over his first two seasons.
After moving to defensive end, Thompson is slowly learning his position, but has yet to make a major on-field impact. Thompson has 17 tackles in 16 career games, starting twice last season.
As a Recruit — Thompson came to Rutgers as a three-star outside linebacker, rated No. 78 overall at his position in the Class of 2012. Out of Boyd H. Anderson High (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.), Thompson chose Rutgers in the summer before his senior year.
Spring Performance — Thompson spent the entire spring healthy and working at defensive end. Battling knee injuries in his first two seasons, having one position and solid health for 15 consecutive practices was crucial for his development.
Showing some consistency to coach Kyle Flood, Thompson worked primarily on the two-deep, but did not emerge as an impact defender.
Does Well — Thompson plays angry, in a good way. He has a high motor, embraces contact and has a nasty streak when facing off with offensive linemen. Controlled chaos follows Thompson when he is playing at his best.
Thompson has impressive hitting ability and has solid speed for a defensive end.
Needs to Improve — Direction. Thompson is selectively aggressive as a defensive linemen and has periods where he goes unnoticed. Being new to the position is no longer an excuse with nearly two years now at the position.
With new position coach Jim Panagos working closely alongside him, Thompson's technique, handwork and consistency will need to improve in training camp to stay on the two-deep.
Long-Term Outlook — Between injuries and position changes, it has been a struggle for Thompson to see the field. With two talented freshmen joining the defensive line and Jamil Merrell and Michael Larrow also playing well at defensive end, it is approaching now or never time for Thompson, who has two seasons remaining.
Thompson plays with a mean streak and will be a feared pass rusher if he can put it all together.