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ALL-USA preseason watch: Defensive tackle Trenton Thompson

Trenton Thompson, far left, had 83 tackles and 12 sacks last season as a junior defensive tackle at Westover (Albany, Ga.). Photo by WXIA-TV

Trenton Thompson, far left, had 83 tackles and 12 sacks last season as a junior defensive tackle at Westover (Albany, Ga.). Photo by WXIA-TV

Leading into the announcement of the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason football team later this month, we’re profiling some of the likely candidates for that team. Today’s candidate is Westover (Albany, Ga.) senior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.

Trenton Thompson has been big ever since he was little.

The Westover (Albany, Ga.) defensive tackle was 10 pounds and 3 ounces when he was born. When he played youth football, he was a defensive player’s nightmare, as a running back that outweighed most players by nearly 50 pounds. He started as a freshman defensive tackle at Westover.

“Coming from the eighth grade, the middle school coaches had already bragged on him,” Westover coach Octavia Jones said. “His ninth-grade year, we threw him into the fire and he was trying to find his way. By his sophomore year, that’s when we really realized he was something special.”

When Thompson first came to Westover, he was athletic but a little soft. Before long, he had improved his bench press from 130 pounds to 200, then 385 pounds.

“I would get with my conditioning coach after practice and do different lifts,” Thompson said. “I also took a weightlifting class, did the bench, the incline and squats. As I began to see progress, I worked extra hard.”

As he added size and strength, he didn’t lose the agility that made him a pee wee football running back. Against Jonesboro last season, an offensive lineman tried to take out his legs and Thompson merely leap-frogged over him to make the tackle.

“I need to work on my footwork more, but I am athletic,” Thompson said. “I can still dunk, so I can jump.”

“I think the reason he’s able to move so well at his size now is he played skill positions when he was younger,” Jones said. “His body outgrew the skill positions, but he still has the agility from back then.”

Thompson ties up two to three offensive players on nearly every series, allowing his teammates to make tackles.

“I know teams are going to double- and triple-team me, but I know others players on our team will make plays if they do,” Thompson said. “I think we can go 10-0 this year because we have a lot of good defensive players back.”

Coaches in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference have definitely noticed Thompson’s improvement. Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney have all made the pilgrimage to Albany to see Thompson. The volume of recruiting mail he gets is too much for his mailbox, so the local carrier just leaves a sack on his porch.

“Our defensive line coach, Jeff Hunter, has NFL experience,”: Jones said. “He has done a great job of preparing Trenton for double- and triple-teams. Once he gets to the next level, he’ll be even more explosive, especially as his technique improves.”

Super stats: Thompson was often double- and triple-teamed, yet had 83 total tackles with 12 sacks, helping lead his team to a 9-3 record. He is 6-3 and 300 pounds and runs a 5.0 40-yard dash.

Rankings: No. 1 defensive tackle by ESPN, Rivals, and Tom Lemming and No. 2 defensive tackle by 247Sports  and Scout.

On film: He’s extremely explosive for someone who is 6-3 and 300 pounds, bulldozing his way into the backfield before opponents can set up their play.

Likely lean: He is set to announce as early as this month and has long been a Georgia fan. But, he is being actively pursued by everybody in the SEC and ACC.

Others take: “He’s not only a run-stuffer. He has elite feet for a 300-pound guy to put pressure on the quarterback. He’s a complete defensive tackle, not just a two-down tackle. Nothing gets past him. He occupies two or three blockers, even if he doesn’t make the play.” – recruiting analyst Tom Lemming

http://usatodayhss.com/2014/08/trenton-thompson-preseason-all-usa-candidate
ALL-USA preseason watch: Defensive tackle Trenton Thompson
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