LUFKIN — Four-star safety Jerrin Thompson gets lost in conversations about the 2020 recruiting class despite ranking among the top 200 prospects in the country. The future Longhorn helped Lufkin clinch its second straight district championship last Friday with a win over Conroe Caney Creek. Even with UT assistant coach Craig Naivar in attendance, the entire focus for Thompson was on winning the game with his teammates against an overmatched opponent.
“It’s a blessing to stay healthy and get the district championship. We haven’t won back-to-back district titles in a long time, so it feels great,” Thompson said after the win. “We take every game as a regular game. We can’t sink to the other’s team level, and that’s my job as a leader. We need to use these games to prepare for the playoffs.”
Thompson rarely puts the focus on himself. The 6-foot, 183-pound ballhawk doesn’t yearn for the spotlight. Chalk it up to his East Texas roots. It’s a culture of we, not me, built upon a commonality of life outside the major metroplexes that dominate the state’s landscape of football culture.
“People say we are country, but we just love what we do. We love each other and we play for each other,” Thompson said of East Texas football. “There’s a lot of struggle out here, so football is a place that we can excel and get after it.”
The frustrations of life off the field manifest into Thompson’s style of play. He’s not a passive safety who prefers to play center field. He’s a hitter. And he takes a ton of pride in his reputation as an enforcer.
“The most physical team is going to win. If you hit somebody in the mouth, they’re not going to like that,” he explained. “I just take that mindset that I’m a dog and I’m going to hit you harder than you’re going to hit me.”
He also described himself as a leader.
“I’m a great leader and I’m going to make the play,” Thompson continued. “I’m going to get to the football.”
Those are welcomed words for Texas fans currently watching the Longhorns’ secondary struggle to impose its will on opponents. Texas needs physical players who aren’t afraid to tackle. Thompson was complimentary of Texas’ defensive scheme and is clearly excited about his future in Austin.
“I can’t wait to get to Texas,” he said. “It’s the next step in my dream and I’m blessed to be in shoes that a lot of people can’t fit in.”
His reasons for picking Texas were simple, and the Longhorns’ 5-3 record hasn’t changed his mindset about his future home.
“I picked Texas because it is home. There is no other place I’d rather be because I grew up loving Texas,” Thompson said. “Coach Naivar is like another father figure for me. He’s always kept it real.”
Thompson is one of 17 prospects in the 2020 class pledged to the Longhorns. The class ranks sixth in the nation and first in the Big 12 despite three decommitments since the loss to Oklahoma. Thompson is one of two safeties committed, forming an intriguing pair with fellow four-star Xavion Alford.
Thompson picked Texas back in August. He took an official visit to Austin on Sept. 21. He earned first-team all-district honors as a sophomore after recording 95 tackles, forcing four fumbles and intercepting four passes. He was the defensive MVP of District 8-5A Division I as a junior after matching his production from his sophomore campaign. He’ll arrive at UT in the summer of 2020 as a three-time all-district selection and a candidate to compete for a spot on the two-deep as a freshman.