Every time he touches the ball, Florida State running back Chris Thompson thinks big -- as in, 20 yards big.
“My thing is first down, touchdown,” said Thompson. “That’s my mindset every time I touch the ball. One thing I really believe in is always having at least a 20-yard gain every time I touch the ball. That’s just the way I think. I know that the offensive line is going to do their job, and Lonnie [Pryor] is going to do his job and the receivers. I just know after that it’s all God-given talent and I believe I have it to be able to get those extra yards and push for those yards we need.”
He’s proved as much through Florida State’s current undefeated streak in ACC play. As the Seminoles (6-1, 4-0 ACC) prepare to face NC State (5-2, 2-1) in Raleigh on Thursday night in what will be a season-defining game for the Atlantic Division standings, they do so with one of the most productive running games in the country. The carries are divvied among three talented backs, including Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones, but Thompson has been the most productive with the 58 carries he’s had.
Considering what he’s accomplished so far this season -- an average of 7.7 yards per carry -- Thompson’s goal of 20 yards per touch isn’t so far-fetched.
Try 90 (Miami). Or 83 (BYU).
Thompson leads Florida State with five plays of 25 yards or longer, including his 90-yard touchdown run against Miami -- the third-longest play in school history. Thompson is one of only two players in school history with multiple scoring runs of 80 yards or more. Sammie Smith did it twice in 1987 against East Carolina (83) and Furman (95).
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world to be in the record books with all of those great running backs,” Thompson said. “It’s like one of the greatest accomplishments in my life, honestly.”
And he’s only a sophomore.
“He’s got great potential,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s really learning what we’re doing. He’s gotten physically stronger, faster, and his confidence level is going up. He’s blocking well, he’s catching the ball, he really understands his reads and he’s very disciplined and dependable. He comes to work every day, a very intelligent guy, picks things up very quickly.”
Thompson, who has four brothers and three sisters, is used to sharing. He said he would eventually like to be the featured back, but who doesn't? Right now he’s comfortable in the system under coach Eddie Gran, and the trio has yet to lose a fumble in seven games and 174 total carries. Thompson, who scored twice last year against the Wolfpack, leads the team with an average of 63.6 yards per game.
“That’s not really a focus,” Thompson said of getting the majority of the carries. “It’s whatever I need to do for the team. Coach Gran, he tells us we have to do what we need to do with the carries that we get.”
So far, Thompson has done that -- big time.