Trenton Thompson is a mammoth defensive tackle at 6-foot-4 and 304 pounds. Yet Thompson doesn’t move around like someone who’s asked to occupy blockers to free up space for inside linebackers.
No, Thompson moves like he’s 100 pounds lighter when chasing down plays. In just about every game, Thompson has had a highlight where he turns around from the line of scrimmage and runs down a ball-carrier looking for extra yardage.
Thompson once again was all over the playing field in Saturday’s 35-21 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. He tallied six tackles, which tied him with linebacker Roquan Smith and cornerback Malkom Parrish for second most on the team.
For the season, Thompson has 45 tackles, with six of those going for a loss. While Thompson, a sophomore, is living up to the No. 1 overall recruit ranking he earned in the class of 2015, no one on his team is surprised at how he’s played.
As for Thompson, he took a more modest approach.
"I’m just competing," Thompson said. "That’s all I can be."
His teammates, however, have been impressed with his development as a sophomore. But it’s not a shock because Thompson has made those kind of plays in practice since the preseason of his freshman season.
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith said it didn’t take long to realize Georgia got a special talent.
"He’s a monster, man," Smith said. "It’s pretty crazy but I’ve known that before he got here, that he’d be a monster."
Thompson said the biggest area of improvement has been how he uses his hands off the snap. He’s also worked on staying low against blocks to win the leverage battle.
Thompson isn’t blocked too easily and has consistently seen double teams. Yet he’s consistently been in teams’ backfields, stopping runs up the middle or running plays down. He’s been healthy all season, after dealing with two ankle injuries a year ago, and has been able to be a disruptive force for the Bulldogs defensively.
"I always knew Trenton was dominant," outside linebacker Davin Bellamy said. "Whenever he wants to go unblocked, he will go unblocked. He’s a great teammate. He plays hard every week. He’s a really important player for us."
Thompson’s play on the field had Bellamy thinking twice about how old, or young, he is. Asked when he realized Thompson would be this kind of a contributor, Bellamy said all the way back to his freshman year, before realizing that was only last year.
"Is he a sophomore? Wow, it seems like he’s been here a long time," Bellamy said. "But I saw it last year. He’s going to be a stud."
With Thompson coming back next year, Georgia will have an experienced, yet young, defensive front, which has been rather effective during the regular season. Despite rotating four freshmen, along with Thompson and Jonathan Ledbetter, to go with junior John Atkins, the elder statesman of the group, Georgia’s front has been stout up front in most games.
Thompson wouldn’t look ahead to next year, stating that Georgia’s defensive line needs to finish out the final two games – against Georgia Tech and the bowl game.
But given what’s projected to be back up front, the defensive line, led by Thompson, could be something special.
"We gotta finish this year," Thompson said. "We can’t go into next year yet."