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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

By Sammy Batten

Offensive Analysis  •  Defensive Analysis  •  Thumbnails

QB's & Receivers  •  O-Linemen & RB's  •  Thumbnails

Thompson stands by his allegiance to ECU

Hard-hitting Eastern Alamance star on course for rendezvous in Greenville with former teammate Emanuel Davis

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Loyalty is important to Matt Thompson, and that ultimately led the hard-hitting defender to stick to his pledge to join the East Carolina Pirates.

Thompson, from Mebane, NC, was being courted by a handful of NCAA Division I-A programs after a spectacular junior season at Eastern Alamance High School. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound safety had collected 126 tackles, forced four fumbles and made two interceptions in leading Eastern to a 9-4 record.

But because Thompson had yet to qualify academically at that stage, most of those schools wanted to wait until his senior year before offering a scholarship.

“It seemed like last spring we had everyone in the world come in here, and they all liked Matt,’’ Eastern Alamance coach John Kirby said. “But at the time, Matt had some issues as far as being able to qualify. So instead of offering, a lot of people held off to see what would happen.

“East Carolina was the one that was persistent. They offered him and stuck with him.’’

Thompson wound up making a verbal commitment to the Pirates in October.

But then came December and a stellar performance by Thompson in the annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star game. Thompson had three tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, as the North Carolina squad pulled out a 23-16 win against South Carolina.

It was also around that time that Thompson because academically qualified.

Those two factors prompted some renewed interest from programs like Duke, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Virginia and Wake Forest.

“He did receive some attention after the Shrine Bowl, but he handled it well,’’ Kirby said. “He knew they (ECU) had made a commitment to him and he felt like he should honor that.’’

The Pirates are getting a physical, aggressive athlete who could possibly grow into a linebacker once he gets into the nutrition and workout routine at ECU.

Although he played safety at Eastern Alamance, Thompson did so with the tenacity of a linebacker. He made 64 tackles, had two interceptions and broke up six passes as a senior as Eastern went 11-4 and reached the regional finals.

“Matt is not known for making interceptions,’’ Kirby said. “I think instead of looking for the interception, at times he’s trying to find somebody to hit. He looks for that contact first as opposed to trying to get his hands on the ball.

“Because he likes contact, I think he could wind up at linebacker. He has the frame to put on a lot of weight.’’

Thompson has been in the Eastern Alamance program since he was a freshman. He played with the junior varsity squad as a freshman before moving to the varsity as a starter the next season.

Kirby recognized even as a freshman that Thompson was a cut above most players his age.

“Sometimes you can sort of look at a kid and see a kid is more developed than other kids his age,’’ Kirby said. “I think Matt has always had a little bigger physique. He looks like he’s been in the weight room since he was born. I guess it’s in the genes.’’

Thompson will be reunited at ECU with an old Eastern Alamance teammate in Emanuel Davis. Davis, who will also be part of the recruiting Class of 2007, has played his last three seasons at Manteo High School.

But as a freshman, Davis lived in Mebane and played alongside Thompson in the secondary on Eastern Alamance’s junior varsity squad. Davis is expected to play cornerback at ECU.

“I think they may end up rooming together,’’ Kirby said. “I think both those kids have a chance to compete (for playing time) next year. I think they (ECU) graduated some people at those spots.’’

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02/23/2007 02:38:35 PM


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