Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and USC are the schools in contention for the 6’4”, 292-pounder’s services. The home-state Bulldogs are the unquestioned favorite, according to Thompson’s crystal ball page.
However, what makes Mark Richt’s club the best fit for Thompson are the recent additions of defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
As Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee detailed, Richt’s hire of Rocker was a "home run" for the Bulldogs.
Rocker, who starred as a defensive lineman at Auburn in the late 1980s, brings years of experience as a coach in the SEC and in the NFL.
According to Sallee, in three of his last five years coaching in the SEC, his defenses have finished in the top five in the conference in tackles for loss.
Thompson—who has recorded 148 tackles and 17 sacks over his last two seasons at Albany’s Westover High School—is a perfect fit for Rocker to plug into the middle of the Bulldogs' 3-4 scheme.
During Thompson’s visit to Athens last month, he spoke on the attraction of potentially playing for a coach with Rocker’s decorated resume on the field and as a coach.
"Tracy Rocker, he won the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Trophy in the same year," Thompson told Adams (subscription required). "He's a beast."
Additionally, the Bulldogs’ top two players at nose guard—Chris Mayes and Mike Thornton—are upperclassmen. Assuming Thompson can make a smooth transition to the college level, there should be ample playing time available if he heads to Athens.
Meanwhile, Pruitt’s one-year stint as Florida State’s defensive coordinator was built around the talents of star nose guard Timmy Jernigan—which could be the role Thompson is asked to play for the ‘Dawgs.
Among the schools fighting to pry Thompson away from his home state, Auburn appears to pose the biggest threat to Georgia. According to Adams (subscription required), Thompson made five visits to Auburn’s campus this year.
Similar to Rocker, Tigers defensive line coach Rodney Garner—who served in the same capacity at Georgia from 1998-2012—has a strong track record of producing elite defensive linemen.
The Tigers also have a wealth of upperclassmen at defensive tackle, and as Adams noted, that’s a big part of their pitch to Thompson.
"Auburn is telling me about how many defensive lineman they are losing and how I can make a big impact early if I go here," Thompson said.
While both SEC powers and bitter rivals offer Thompson great opportunities, in the end, the chance to star for the home-standing Bulldogs may be too tough to pass on.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
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