MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s not that Trent Thompson hasn’t shown glimpses of this before. It’s just been that: Glimpses. And then came this game: An eruption.
Not one sack, not two sacks, but three sacks for Thompson in the Liberty Bowl, two of which probably took points off the board for the opponent. It was critical in Georgia’s 31-23 win over TCU, after which Thompson was named the game’s overall MVP.
“High motor, always working,” said TCU quarterback Kenny Hill, the man who Thompson brought down all three times. “He played well.”
Thompson only had 2.5 sacks his entire college career up to this point. He only needed one game to exceed that. During the postgame ceremony Thompson did a dance he called “the jolly,” and was interviewed on the big screen. For someone not used to much attention, he fared well.
During another ceremony, after the postgame press conference, Thompson was given a giant eagle trophy, which the Liberty Bowl bestows upon its game MVPs.
“I’m going to give it to my mom. She’s got an area where she puts all my trophies to collect them,” Thompson said. “She’s going to do with it what she wants to do.”
Kirby Smart, sitting next to him, interjected.
“I’ve been to his house and seen that area – it’s a whole lot of trophies,” Smart said, grinning.
That was because Thompson was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of Albany in 2015. In fact he was rated the top recruit in the nation by 247Sports.
But Thompson’s impact wasn’t immediate. He started six games last year and seven this year, losing his spot midway through this season because of practice work habits. Then he earned it back. He’s clearly been the team’s best defensive lineman, but not an All-SEC type performer.
In the final game, he sure looked like one.
Thompson was nonchalant when asked what got into him.
“I think I prepared pretty good,” Thompson said. “I went in with the mindset that you’ve got to stay loose with your hands, and coach said you have to listen to your keys.”