This offseason, senior defensive end Taylor Thompson had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. A gym rat, Thompson struggled to stay out of the weight room. He said doctors wouldn't let him do upper body for about a month-and-a-half and he couldn't bench for over two months.
But Thompson (6-foot-6, 287 lbs.), who will headline an experienced, strong and athletic defensive line this season, said he's 100 percent.
"It's been a long recovery, but I'm back," he said.
Defensive coordinator Tom Mason changed SMU's 4-3 defense to a 3-4 a few years ago. It took awhile for the players to get the hang of the new schemes, but Thompson said now everything is clicking.
"Having a veteran group makes a huge difference," Thompson said. "We had to learn [the new scheme] but now we all have this new mentality and we're all on the same page."
Thompson described Mason as a "get after the quarterback type of guy," and with a line that is comprised of upperclassmen – Thompson, junior nose tackle Torlan Pittman (6-1, 295 lbs.) and senior end Marquis Frazier (6-3, 287 lbs.) – the group is confident they can do just that.
"We understand what the coaches are asking us," Thompson said. "We can make plays and we're better now [than in previous years] of what we want to do."