Bubba Thompson is at a life crossroads.
From Nov. 9-16, the McGill-Toolen (Ala.) High School two-sport athlete has the option to sign scholarship papers to have a portion of his education paid for at Auburn to play baseball. If he signs, that could end his football career. If he doesn’t, that could signal the onset of a career in the Southeastern Conference both as a sleek outfielder and a dual-threat quarterback.
A conversation with offensive coordinator Mike DeBord on Oct. 17 ended with Thompson gaining a scholarship offer to compete on the gridiron at Tennessee.
“It’s been my dream to play both, and it’s an even bigger dream to get an offer from an SEC school,” Thompson told InsideTennessee. “That’s what all the little kids dream of growing up, and I’m finally grown up and getting them. So, it’s a good feeling.”
DeBord told Thompson he was impressed by “just my accuracy and my speed and how I distribute the ball” in providing the right-hander with the offer. Thompson clocked a 4.45-second 40-yard dash in front of both Auburn and Troy football coaches in camp this summer.
Now that Thompson has an option to realize his dream, he has thinking to do. He got a jumpstart on educating himself on life in orange and white by taking in a Neyland Stadium gameday when the Volunteers hosted Alabama on Oct. 15.
The McGill-Toolen senior pointed to Tennessee’s spread offense and gameday environment as things that stick out to him.
“Everyone is involved in the game and just how they set the atmosphere off is very good,” he said.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder has not seen a baseball game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville. He said he would visit again “if I have time.”
The drive wasn’t a concern for the Mobile resident.
“I mean you you have to grow up as a man,” Thompson said. “Sometimes you have to move away from home and get away from home. You know that’s going to happen once you grow up. (The drive to Knoxville) was fine to me.”
As a junior on the diamond, Thompson batted .469 with 11 doubles, eight triples, 39 runs scored and 19 stolen bases.
As a senior on the gridiron, he has 1,942 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions.
National Signing Day for football recruits is Feb. 1, 2017. Central Florida, Troy and Western Kentucky are others that offered a football scholarship.
“I’m going to have to let my cards play out, talk to my mom and my dad, just see what’s the best situation for us and for me moving on,” said Thompson, who added that it will most likely have to be a situation where he’d be allowed to play both sports.
Thompson has not discussed a football scholarship with Gus Malzahn and the Auburn football program.
“I haven’t, I haven’t,” Thompson said. “One camp I went to and I just talked to them. It ain’t nothing big.”
McGill-Toolen won the AHSAA Class 7A state championship last December. With Thompson leading the way, they’re 9-0, ranked No. 1 in 7A and charging toward the postseason.
“We’re going to go game-by-game and play-by-play and that’s all we’re looking forward to,” he said.
Thompson carries a 2.5 grade point average and has an ACT score of 19 with a retake taking place last weekend.