Whether it was the attitude around the program, the way the coaching staff sold his position or the ability to come in and compete right away, everything about the University of Florida felt right to Thompson.
"It was Florida for me all the way," Thompson said. "I just had some great trips down there and fell in love with it."
Not wanting to drag the process out any longer, Thompson – a four-star prospect and the No.3 tight end in the country by Scout.com – called the Gators coaches earlier in the week to give them his verbal commitment, choosing Florida over his two other favorites - Boston College (his first offer) and Wisconsin (his second favorite) - along a slew of other scholarship offers numbering over 15.
Originally planning on making his final decision in the weeks leading up to his senior season, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Thompson felt he had enough of the circus-like atmosphere that comes with being a player of his caliber.
"I got to the point where we felt we were comfortable and I was comfortable to make the right decision," Thompson said. "College coaches started showing up in the weight room, and I didn't like that. I just wanted to focus on what we have here and not have the distraction and craziness that followed. I don't have to worry about it or be bothered with it anymore. I can do my own thing and I am really excited that I made the right decision for myself."
That decision seemed like an easy one after Thompson first stepped foot in Gainesville over the winter, seeing the national championship trophies after walking in the front doors and seeing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and former head coach Urban Meyer going over x's and o's, but the decision became muddled after visiting Madison for the first time, meeting Wisconsin's coaches, seeing the team workout and touring the facilities on a trip he ranked 10 out of 10.
"When I got there, I was like, ‘Whoa, this is a great place, too,'" Thompson said of his UW visit. "It's a great place to win football games and go to school, so I thought I should maybe visit some more schools because there could be more schools like this I haven't seen yet."
But when he went to Gainesville later that week, his love for the Gators was reaffirmed. Citing the energy he felt from not only Weis, but from new head coach Will Muschamp and tight ends coach Derek Lewis, Thompson was ready to shut down the process.
"I love Coach Muschamp's morals, just the type of guy he is on and off the field and him being a great leader," Thompson said. "I love the coaches at Wisconsin – from Coach Bielema to Coach Rudolph to Coach Chryst – and had a great trip there, but there wasn't one thing that was the deciding factor. All the things fell into the place for me at Florida."
As much as Thompson appreciates Lewis and Muschamp, the relationship with Weis sealed the deal, as Weis is entering his first season as Florida's offensive coordinator and used the fact that his new offense needs a multidimensional tight end as a selling point.
"Notre Dame was the school I wanted to go to and, although things fell through for him there, when he was there, that was my dream," Thompson said. "If you are a Pennsylvania tight end, you are a big man and you want to play for Charlie Weis, that's what you do. I liked him the first day I met him. He's the type of guy that even though he has four Super Bowl rings, he doesn't talk about himself, he doesn't bring out the rings and he makes the conversation about you.
"When we talked, he put his cell phone on silent and missed calls from (New England Patriots coach) Bill Belichick and (former Notre Dame and current Carolina Panthers quarterback) Jimmy Clausen, and he wasn't showing off about it at all. With Charlie, he's a good guy and one thing that did appeal to me is Charlie's son is a senior in high school and going to be a freshman at Florida next year. So, Charlie's not going anywhere, which is going to be great to have him there for the next five years."
One call that Weis did answer on his phone was that of his former tight end Kyle Rudolph, who caught 90 passes for 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns in his injured shorten three-year Notre Dame career and was selected by Minnesota in the second round of this year's NFL Draft.
"He's one of my idols," Thompson said of Rudolph. "Kyle said Charlie recruited him as a real skinny baseball player and turned him into one of the top tight ends of the country. Notre Dame did a lot for him, but he said what built him into the tight end he is today was Charlie Weis. Rudolph didn't have anything bad to say and you could definitely tell the conversation wasn't planned. It was a good experience."
Thompson admitted it was hard to turn down a Wisconsin program that has five tight ends playing in the NFL on Sundays compared to just one for the Gators, but Thompson sees an opportunity at Florida under Weis. Although Florida has four scholarship tight ends on the roster, none are older than a redshirt sophomore and none are as arguably well rounded as Thompson, who caught 13 passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns and blocked for two running backs that went over 1,000 yards each last season.
When he starts in Gainesville in August '12, Thompson wants to lay the foundation for a new tight end tradition for the Gators.
"That's crossed my mind numerous times that I could start something new there and recruits can say that Colin Thompson went to school there, similar to how I felt with Rudolph," Thompson said. "It's definitely something that interested me and for me, honestly, it's hard to turn down Charlie Weis."
Thompson is the 10th commit in Florida's 2012 recruiting class and the fifth player rated four stars or better.