Tyriq Thompson was once described as “Christmas coming early.”
The Detroit King senior is trading in his black and gold for Michigan State’s green and white in January, and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was quick to praise the hard-hitting linebacker.
Because of the new rule allowing recruits to sign Big Ten tenders early, Thompson will enroll in January and participate in spring practice. He still can sign a national letter of intent Feb. 4, but he’ll already be at MSU.
“I plan on playing as a freshman,” Thompson said.
Dantonio described the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder in October as a “very quick, very explosive, very intelligent” player.
He also described Thompson as mature enough and intelligent enough, academically and athletically, to make the move in January and get ready for the 2015 season.
The comments weren’t lost on the linebacker.
“Actually, I was kind of surprised,” Thompson said. “I didn’t know he was going to say what he said. It was really an honor for him to say that. I’m just looking forward to getting up there in shape and ready to play so I can contribute.
“I know he doesn’t pass out compliments a lot.”
Michigan dropped the ball on Thompson, whose father, Clarence, played for the Wolverines. They came in too late to make up any ground on the Spartans.
He wasn’t hard to find, starring on King’s defense, plowing through running backs and chasing down quarterbacks.
King’s season fizzled out this year, losing to Cass Tech in the PSL championship game and to Southfield in the first round of the playoffs.
“It hurts not playing,” Thompson said. “Not just me, but the guys I’ve played with. We put in a lot of work in the off-season, and to come up short. … The look on the guys’ faces after we lost was kind of painful.”
While Thompson now focuses on the next level, King coach Dale Harvel wouldn’t be surprised to see Thompson playing next season, especially with him being able to participate in spring practice.
“Tyriq is the definition of a student-athlete,” Harvel said. “He currently holds a 4.2 grade-point average and a 27 on the ACT. He has done all the things that we asked of him and has never once complained. He leads by example, and he has all the tools to be exceptional when he goes to MSU in January. He’s fast, strong and highly instinctive.
“Off the football field, you won’t find a better trustworthy person than Tyriq Thompson. Sky’s the limit for Tyriq.”
As his days wind down at King, Thompson has had time to reflect.
“The thing I’ll miss the most is the guys I played with,” he said. “The coaches — just the camaraderie that we had, having fun, playing the game that we love. It’s something I’ll never forget.
“I took being a leader head-on. My coaches, they put a lot of expectations on me. I just tried my best to live up to those expectations.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.
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