Bulldog bio: Erroll Thompson

Erroll Thompson

Staff Writer

There isn’t a single senior linebacker on Mississippi State’s football roster for the upcoming season. To say it’s a relatively young group is an understatement.

However there is little worry that the unit is prepared to hold up its end of MSU’s defense.

A big reason for that is sophomore Erroll Thompson. Thompson comes into 2018 on the heels of an outstanding debut season for State. He was picked to the All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team last year after playing in all 13 of MSU’s games and racking up 44 total tackles to lead all SEC freshman linebackers. He also had four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

He was a consistent menace to opposing offenses as he had five different games with five or more tackles, including an eight-tackle performance against Kentucky.

In his second year of action with the Bulldogs, Thompson is looking forward to the chance to have an even bigger impact.

“The spotlight will be on me a little bit, but I embrace that,” Thompson said in the spring.

Ready to lead

Though he’s only a sophomore, Thompson goes into the season ready to lead like an upperclassman.

He’s prepared to do that as he was suddenly thrust into a leadership role last season.

Thompson was the backup to then-MSU linebacker Dez Harris before Harris went down with injury. Thompson was forced to step up and fill Harris’ role as the centerpiece and play-caller of State’s defense. The experience helped Thompson to grow up quickly.

“I feel like I’ve matured past my years of playing a little bit,” Thompson said.

There will be no sudden surprises for Thompson this year. He’s likely to be State’s starting middle linebacker from the season’s opening bell on. He’s embracing the chance to lead MSU’s defense into battle each Saturday.
“I know that if we have a bad game, it’s going to be on me because I am the quarterback of the defense,” Thompson said.

The perfect fit

Thompson is enjoying the chance to work with MSU’s new coaching staff put together by first-year head coach Joe Moorhead. Thompson has a new linebackers coach – Tem Lukabu. Bob Shoop is now State’s defensive coordinator.

In some cases, change can create challenges. However Thompson said things have gone great for him adapting to the new voices in his ears.

“It’s perfect,” Thompson said. “I feel like a perfect staff has been put together. All the styles kind of fit together and they have done a good job so far.”

Did you know?

Thompson wasn’t always the talented linebacker he is now.

In fact, his job used to be trying to get past other linebackers.

Thompson was on his way to being a star running back at Florence High School in Florence, Alabama, early in his prep career. However, he suffered a torn ACL that caused him to miss his sophomore season. When Thompson returned, he was moved to linebacker and the rest is history.

Looking ahead

Thompson has all the qualities to keep improving as a football player in 2018.

That’s good news for the Bulldogs because he was already really good as a freshman a year ago.

He seems to have an incredibly high football IQ. He has the respect of his teammates. That all bodes well for State.

Perhaps most importantly, he wants the challenges that come with being a leader for MSU. He’s not shying away from the responsibility at all.

It seems like, despite the unit’s youth, MSU’s linebackers are in good hands with Thompson guiding them.

“I have to kind of have a mindset like a fifth-year senior out there when I’m making calls and everything,” Thompson said. “Our coaches aren’t going to look at me as a freshman or sophomore anymore. They’re looking at me as an older guy.”

(Editor's note: Leading up to the start of Mississippi State football training camp, the Starkville Daily News will take a look at several of the key pieces for the 2018 Bulldogs.)