Thompson does the dirty work, lets others take the praise

by - Senior Writer -
Thompson racked up 56 tackles last season – including 7.5 tackles for loss.

CLEMSON – Brandon Thompson Brandon Thompson
Defensive Tackle
6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA
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knows who gets the glory on the defense, and it usually isn’t the defensive tackles.

The linebackers get to make the sideline-to-sideline plays, and they get accolades. Defensive ends are often free to rush the quarterback and they get the praise. The defensive backs sit back in coverage and get the opportunity to intercept passes.

But Thompson knows all of this is possible because he is up front, doing the dirty work. He is drawing double teams from offensive linemen so the ends and linebackers can be free to make plays. He’s clogging the middle and slowing the run game down so the defensive backs will get their shot.

And he’s okay with that, because he says he also knows who the toughest guy on the field is.

“I think it just takes toughness to be able to go in there and get double-teamed every play and not being able to make the plays you know you are capable of making because you know what’s going on in there,” Thompson said Wednesday. “I guess I will get those doubles every play. I’m ready for it, so bring it on.”

The rising redshirt senior out of Thomasville, Ga., doesn’t have fellow tackles Jarvis Jenkins Jarvis Jenkins
Defensive Tackle
6-4, 315
Clemson, SC
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or Miguel Chavis Miguel Chavis
Defensive Tackle
6-5, 285
Fayetteville, NC
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to lean on this season, and he realizes the focus of offensive lines is going to fall squarely on his shoulders.

However, he racked up 56 tackles last season – including 7.5 tackles for loss – and he feels like now is his time to shine. And if that includes taking more of a leadership role on a young defensive line, so be it.

“I feel like I was always ready for it. It was just a matter of waiting my turn,” he said. “I feel like I have the respect from a lot of my other players to take control of that role. I just keep doing what I do. I’m not much of a vocal person unless I have to be. I just pretty much lead by example for the most part.

“I think it’s just whatever needs to be done to get the job done. Some days I have to go out there and be vocal and some days I just have to go out there and work hard, and the guys see that I’m working hard and they follow. I have to help them out every now and then. It’s nothing major. They are young and they are going to mess up every now and then. I mess up. We just have to get through it together.”

Thompson said that this spring has seen him elevate his game even more.

“I feel like the spring helped me out a lot. I learned a lot of things this spring that I didn’t know last fall,” he said. “It’s just better technique, playing with my hands, pads, rushing moves. Just becoming a better pass rusher. I feel like I can get better at stopping the run. I feel like I can get better going into the fall and become a dominant pass rusher.”

He was told that he fits the mold of the prototypical noseguard in a 3-4 defense, and he said it doesn’t matter to him where he lines up – as long as he lines up.

“We are just going to do whatever we need to do to win the ball game and be a dominant defense,” he said. “It doesn’t really bother me whether I’m in the three [technique], the 2-wide, the head up or tilt. I’m just ready to play. “

Following last season, there were rumors that Thompson flirted with the idea of declaring for the NFL draft, and he admitted on Wednesday it was an option. However, once he learned he probably wouldn’t go in the first three rounds, he decided that coming back for his senior season was his best option.

Plus, it gives NFL personnel another body of work to look at.

“I thought about it and talked it over with my parents and a couple of the coaches,” he said. “I decided to come back. I put in for my projection and it came back that I wasn’t going to be drafted in the first three rounds. I’ve got a job to do now and that’s to come out and play. That’s the biggest thing, is what they see on film so I have to go out and put some good things on film.”

Thompson said that last year’s team didn’t feel like a 6-7 squad – there was too much talent – and he believes this year’s team is poised for a breakout year.

“I think it’s just that everyone wants to win. Everybody is coming together and it’s starting to click for everyone,” he said. “Everyone is getting on the same page, and things are starting to happen. We are still not where we need to be at, but we are getting close.

“It was just a couple of snaps, a couple of plays, a couple of plays away from having the season we wanted to have. We know that now. We are just working on getting the little things right, taking coaching and just building on that. That’s where you start at to get where you want to be.”

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