If the Grove Bowl was any indication of what’s in store for Carlos Thompson, Ole Miss fans are in for a treat this season.
Back in April, the former Hollandale Simmons standout tallied seven tackles (including two tackles for loss) and a sack in the Grove Bowl, the school’s annual scrimmage game.
After playing in a reserve role during his freshman year, the former top recruit is hoping to hear his name on the loudspeaker more frequently this season.
“I’m expecting much more playing time,” said the defensive end, who played in seven games last season and recorded his first sack of his college career during a Nov. 6 game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Thompson said he came to Oxford thinking he would redshirt, because “I was undersized.” But he got his first taste of college football against Tulane on Sept. 11, 2010.
He also saw action against SEC opponents Arkansas and Alabama. That experience was something players can’t grasp by just practicing, Thompson said.
“I’m glad I played,” said Thompson. “At first my play wasn’t so good. But once I started playing (more), it got better. I caught up with the tempo.”
Thompson not only grew up on the field. He grew up physically.
Thompson, or “Pooh” as his family refers to him, says he’s put on about 35 pounds since last season. The 6-foot-5 Thompson says he now weighing around 250 pounds.
“I’ve just been eating,” said Thompson, who added that Oxford’s new IHOP restaurant has been a welcomed treat.
Recently, Ole Miss has produced some of the SEC’s best defensive lineman (think Greg Hardy, Peria Jerry and Jerrell Powe, to name a few). This year’s defensive linemen will be lead by senior Kentrell Lockett, who was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility. Thompson said he’s learned a lot from Lockett and other veteran linemen on the team.
“I look up to (Lockett) like a mentor,” Thompson said. “When I need help he’s there to help me. He knows the game and he knows what needs to be done.”
Currently, Thompson says he’s just staying in shape until two-a-days start in August. Hopefully, he says, the Rebels will improve on their 4-8 (1-7 SEC) record in 2010. Last year, Ole Miss’ defensive unit gave up nearly 400 yards per game — last in the SEC. Plus, opponents averaged over 35 points per game against the Rebels.
“I feel like this year, we have more committed players,” said Thompson. “We’ll be better defensively and offensively.”
One change — other than more playing time — he can expect to see this season is a familiar face in the stands at Ole Miss road games. His father, Carlos Thompson Sr., who coached him at Hollandale Simmons High, recently resigned from his position. He made most of last year’s games in Oxford, but wasn’t able to travel to away games. Now with a more flexible schedule, the elder Thompson will be everywhere the Rebels are, said the younger Thompson.
“I know,” said the 2009 Holladanle Simmons alum, “he’s going to be in the stands a lot more this year.”