Thompson recounts offseason spent in playbook, 2019 goals

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Texas defensive back Josh Thompson played in 13 games last year with the majority of his contributions on special teams. He started against Tulsa, USC, and West Virginia, and there were several moments in each of those games where the opponent made a play against Thompson.

Prior to this season, Thompson came into camp committed to making sure that doesn’t happen again by always being in the right spot.

“I came in playing corner, but my main focus for this camp is to understand the nickel spot more, get real in-depth in the playbook, and just know that like the back of my hand so everything will be smooth,” Thompson said Tuesday.

Over the course of his session with the media, Thompson repeated how much he studied the playbook over the offseason in order to succeed at nickel. He’s currently competing with sophomore B.J. Foster for the starting role, with true freshman Chris Adimora also working the position.

Outside of senior Brandon Jones, Thompson is one of the more experienced members of Craig Naivar’s safety room. Anywhere between three and six members of that unit could be on the field at the same time this fall.

As a result, communication between members of the secondary becomes paramount when most of the defense is made up of members of the secondary.

“We just have to make sure everyone is on task,” Thompson said. “If everyone is on task, we’ll do great things for this secondary and for this defense. It’s going real well. We’ve just got to make sure everybody is doing the right thing, everybody is in the right spot getting lined up, and we’ll be good.”

In better understanding the position, Thompson said he reached out to those who have previously played it for Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. He said he regularly speaks with current Steelers DB P.J. Locke about what he can do to improve at the position. “Learning from P.J., I still call him to this day and get tips from him,” Thompson said.

Thompson claims two separate superlatives for the unit. He told reporters he was the best blitzer among the DBs, and also claimed to be faster than senior receiver Devin Duvernay. He was willing to part with the accolades for hardest-hitter, saying that was a competition between Foster and junior Chris Brown.

As one of the position groups on the team that has been well-stocked in recent years with elite recruiting, Thompson was asked about those on the bench behind him. Texas head coach Tom Herman recently stated there are around six DBs they would feel comfortable starting, with Thompson being one of the six.

For Thompson, that just goes to show there’s depth at the position.

“Very deep,” he said. “Anybody can come in and play.”

While still working on his conventional defensive position, Thompson also works on his unique role on special teams. He played one of the outside “gunner” roles during his freshman season, often fielding punts inside the five from eventual Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson.

Thompson doesn’t have the same connection with sophomore punter Ryan Bujcevski as he did with Dickson, but it’s something he’s worked to create.

“Still trying to,” Thompson said. “Me and Dickson had a little love going on. I’m trying to with Ryan.”

That’s one of several goals Thompson had for this camp. Though goals exist for himself, Thompson emphasized the achievable goals sitting in front of the entire defense during fall camp and the importance of reaching those, especially for first year players.

It’s all part of being one of the few players with multi-year experience in the Texas secondary.