"I have seen a lot of players working real hard this off season and making a lot of improvements," said Thompson. "We've been working hard with our strength and conditioning and we've seen some guys improve."
SMU is being mentioned in the title talk when it comes to Conference-USA. Taylor embraces the expectations that go along with the hype.
"I feel like we were so close last year that it is going to drive a lot of guys to take it a little bit further this year," said Thompson. "We have a lot of guys who have two or three years experience, especially on defense.
"I think the guys are going to be hungrier this year to give their all."
The talented defensive end reports that fans should keep a look out for some major contributions from some players who have really come on during the off season.
Taylor, who majors in philosophy, takes a moment from time to time to reflect on how far the SMU program has come in his time on campus.
"It means a lot to me to see the progress," said Thompson. "My first year we went 1-11. That was a tough year for us all.
"I think turning it around fast and going to the Hawaii bowl the next year meant a lot to everybody.
"I feel like this year is going to be a big year for us. After having some disappointment last season, it has give us the motivation to come out this year and finish what we started."
As Taylor looks to his future and his goals beyond the college level, he reports that he is thrilled to be part of a group who helped bring a new level of respect to SMU football.
"One of the things I am most proud of in my life is turning the program around under Coach Jones," said Thompson. "My class was the first year under him.
"We had a tough first year, but everybody bought into the program and we're doing what he asks.
"Just seeing how it's all changed the atmosphere and culture at SMU has been real rewarding for me."