SALT LAKE CITY — Donavan Thompson is no stranger to adversity.
The sophomore linebacker grew up in one of Miami’s toughest suburbs, had to bide his time behind one of the team’s most talented players, and relishes one of the game’s most brutal roles.
When he led the team in tackles against Washington State, which was just his second start for the Utes, it may have surprised the media and fans, but it didn’t surprise his coaches or teammates.
“He’s a monster,” said safety Chase Hansen. “He’s the type of guy who will hit everything and anything. You need guys like that on your defense. It’s the type of guy Sunia (Tauteoli) is. Donavan is very similar.”
Thompson was playing in place of the injured Tauteoli, and he said he was ready for whatever Utah needed on Saturday night. While he felt prepared for the starting role, he said the first two series when “emotions were high” were the most challenging.
“Once I was able to see what the offense was doing … I was able to make plays,” he said. “I think we took a step forward (as a defense).”
He even shrugged off the offenses seven turnovers saying he was proud that the defense was able to hold the Cougars to field goals — or nothing.
“We were just thrilled to be out there every chance we got,” he said. “I feel like our mindset is, no matter what the offense does, we gotta go out there and hold them.”
Thompson’s performance drew praise from head coach Kyle Whittingham and defensive line coach Lewis Powell.
“Donavan Thompson, we were fired up,” said Powell with a smile. “He had a good game, was another young guy who was stepping up. … He just adds another spark to that group.”
Thompson said he was drawn to Utah because of its defensive scheme and identity.
“What we pride ourselves on is physicality, being relentless to the ball,” he said. “That’s basically just me, that’s where I come from, and that’s how I played ball at home.”
He said playing Saturday night felt natural because he simply tried to do his part.
“I wasn’t trying to think about anything but just going out there and doing my job,” he said. “Just get this W the best way I can, which is just do my assignment; don’t do anything extra; don’t try to be a hero.”
Thompson, a three-time high school state champion, said Utah’s offer of …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News