Eleven Warriors' football offseason coverage continues today with the fifth installment of the sixth edition of the Better Know a Buckeye series. The subject of this profile is Dylan Thompson, a defensive lineman prospect from Lombard, Illinois.
Thompson, like so many of his future teammates, comes to Ohio State with considerable accolades, but little fanfare. This is a recurring theme for an Ohio State recruiting class ranked as third best in the country and the consensus best in the Big Ten, but one with few recognizable names. It is a recruiting class rich in four-star prospects but light on "stars". Thompson, who looks to be a solid contributor to Ohio State's defensive line rotation for the next couple years, should fit this pattern well.
Thompson did not have much of a recruitment to note, though I will retell it briefly here and what led to his commitment to Ohio State on March 23, 2013. Thereafter, I give an assessment of strengths and areas for improvement for Thompson as he looks to the beginning of his Ohio State football career. This leads to a projection of a redshirt in 2014. I conclude with some miscellaneous things about Thompson you may find interesting.
High School: Montini Catholic High School; Lombard, IL
Thompson's recruitment was not that much different from one I have retold previously somewhere else. In fact, his recruitment may have consisted of approximately three separate incidents leading to his commitment in March 2013.
Thompson comes from a thriving high school football scene in Chicagoland, one that has increased in visibility in the past few years. Further, his high school program has emerged as a powerhouse in the Land of Lincoln, winning state championships in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Long story short, Thompson was going to get attention from college football programs, certainly from programs in the Midwest. At the end of his junior season, he was hearing from programs like Iowa and Wisconsin.
It started as Thompson made his way around the Core 6, which is the preeminent training and recruiting showcase for recruits in the Chicagoland area. A showing in a Core 6 event in January 2013 led to some long awaited movement on the scholarship front. Shortly after this event, Illinois extended a scholarship offer. The offer came when Thompson attended Illinois' Junior Day festivities on the weekend of January 26-27. Tim Beckman pulled Thompson aside to let him know he had his first scholarship offer. For that reason alone, the offer from Illinois was huge for Thompson. He also suspected it would open the doors for him in a big way.
Those comments from Thompson were prescient. After Indiana extended a scholarship next, the third scholarship offer was from Ohio State two weeks later.
Thompson described the offer as exciting. He got a message in his inbox the morning of a school day to call Urban Meyer. It dawned him a few minutes later that he might get an offer, and one from a marquee program headed by a nationally recognizable head coach who just concluded an undefeated debut at Ohio State. Meyer, and his would-be future position coach and regional recruiter, Mike Vrabel, informed Thompson he would be high priority in their 2014 recruiting class.
The offers accumulated from there. Before he committed, he acquired offers from places like Arkansas, Clemson, Iowa, Missouri, Ole Miss, Purdue, and Syracuse, among others.
Thompson intended to take official visits and make a Signing Day decision. He was even taking some unofficial visits, including to places like Michigan State. However, he took an unofficial visit to Ohio State in March of that year and liked what he saw too much to continue his recruitment any further.
On March 23, 2013, Dylan Thompson became the fifth member of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class.
This was a bit surprising, given an earlier statement that he wanted to wait until Signing Day. However, in an interview with Eleven Warriors, he did mention that timetable could be shortened if he found the right fit.
In an interview with an Illinois prep football affiliate, Thompson was effusive in praise for his experience at Ohio State. Citing every detail of the academic and athletic experience, Ohio State just felt like the natural pick. He said he knew right away.
Where He Excels
Thompson is a tough evaluation for a variety of reasons. For one, I know what Mike Vrabel saw in him, in particular, but his new position coach, Larry Johnson, is unorthodox and may see something else. Second, most recruiting services list him as a future strongside defensive end. This makes sense, given a 6-5, 270-pound frame. Still, there are a lot of drum beats that a three-technique defensive end may be more appropriate for Thompson.
I remember encountering this same problem with Joey Bosa and John Simon, for which comparisons by analogy should not be made because that is not fair to the incoming Thompson. Bosa was listed as a strongside defensive end by all recruiting services with the same drum beats that a three-technique defensive end may be a better fit. Bosa did move inside and out this season, though strongside defensive end looks to be his main position.
Similarly, John Simon was listed by all recruiting services as a future defensive tackle (if he played defense at all). He later debuted for Ohio State as a weakside defensive end and thrived in this position for his four years at Ohio State.
"I don't know" is not very satisfying for the Buckeye fan who wants firm answers, but I would be conjecturing. I think I was right (or will be right) regarding my assessment of Bosa. I was way off on Simon, though I did think he would do well (albeit as a defensive tackle).
With that uncertainty in mind, Thompson grades very well in the strength department. The statistics I have seen for him as a junior mention a squat of 585 pounds. I have also seen a bench of 405 pounds, though I do not know how many reps that is. The squat is more useful since that is where power is derive off the snap.
Further, all reports of Thompson speak well of his playing through the proverbial "whistle".
Must Work On
The big question right now concerns whether Thompson is a strongside defensive end or a defensive tackle. The indicator for this may be Thompson's lateral agility and his ability to get sideline to sideline. If that is not what Larry Johnson wants from the position, Thompson will slide inside.
Further, I think I see a bad tendency to get upright at the snap. Thompson can punch offensive tackles off him at the high school level, but that will not work to the same degree at the college level, even against programs like Illinois and Purdue.
Finally, I am curious how high Thompson's ceiling is. I think he can be a solid contributor, even a first team all-conference performer as an upperclassmen. What type of immediate effect does he have on a rotation that Urban Meyer, admirably, keeps crowded by design? This is the question I am asking myself.
Likely. My understanding is Larry Johnson has an inclination toward the redshirt as a general player development tool. Even then, that defensive line rotation is crowded and just about everyone returns. I think that leads to a redshirt for Thompson in 2014.
Junior year is best we can do.
- Montini Catholic's run of consecutive Class 5A state championships came to an end in Thompson's senior season in which an undefeated season was spoiled in the state championship game with a loss to Joliet Caholic.
- Garrett Goebel, a solid contributor as a redshirt senior at Ohio State, came from the same program.
- 11W Community Interview.
- Named Lineman of the Year for his conference as a senior.
- He was invited to The Opening, along with Dante Booker, Jamarco Jones, Jalyn Holmes, Damon Webb, Kyle Berger, Marcelys Jones, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Trout, Stephen Collier, Sean Nuernberger, Raekwon McMillan, Curtis Samuel, Marshon Lattimore, Johnnie Dixon, and Noah Brown. However, he did not participate after suffering a foot injury before arrival.
- Basically, all but five members of Ohio State's recruiting class was at The Opening, unless I missed someone. Jeez. Even the kicker was there.
- High school teammate, Mike Maduko, will join him at Ohio State as a walk-on.
- Along with Brady Taylor, he represented Ohio State in the International Bowl. The U.S. team beat Canada, 43-7.