Tevin Thompson vocal leader of Yellow Jackets



Sports Editor - Union Daily Times

Every team needs a player to step up and lead by word and action. The Union County Yellow Jackets have such a man.

Tevin Thompson, the only senior on the defensive line, is the very definition of leader, according to his coaches.

"Tevin is a very hard worker, a leader of our defensive line and really a vocal leader of this football team," said Jacket coach David Lipsey. "I've been real  impressed by him - his work ethic and just wanting to be the best and pushing his teammates to be the best. That's what a leader is. If I was going to say everybody this is what we mean by leader, I'd say watch him." Thompson started a few games last year and is probably the team's most experienced defensive lineman coming back, but this year he takes center stage.

"I think now is his time and he is ready to take full advantage of it," said Lipsey. "I think he really wants to make his senior year exceptional and he's worked hard to do it."

Thompson tries to help his teammates become better players, as he becomes a better player. He learned  how to do that last year, playing behind Sam Hammond, Calvin Rice and Tishawn Dawkins. They got more playing time, but Thompson was in the mix and learned. He said Hammond, also considered a leader, taught him a lot.

"I donšt call myself a leader, I just call myself a teammate," he said.

With a lot of younger, inexperienced players, many who have never started before, the Jackets need all the leadership they can get. Thompson is ready to step up and contribute.

Mainly a defensive weapon at nose guard, Thompson also will play some offense on the line at right guard. What's it take to be a good lineman?

"Youšve got to stay low and use your technique, use the basics," he said.

"I'm a small guy, so a lot of times it's a taller lineman, but I stay low and make the play."

Many times, Thompson faces larger opponents.

"I'm not intimidated," he said. "If I stay low and use my speed, I can get past them."

The defensive line looks good this year, according to Thompson.

"We're faster than we were last year," he said. "Not as big, but faster than we were."

UCHS will need every advantage with a tough non-region and region schedule.

Last year, the Jackets made it to the upperstate championship game, before falling a game short of state with a loss to Chester.

UCHS opens the new season with Chester at home on Friday.

"I still feel the pain of the upperstate game," he said.

The team used the pain for motivation and worked hard in the off-season.

Thompson and teammates have been preparing almost non-stop since the loss.

New strength coach Duane Nelson has helped Thompson.

"Coach Nelson got us faster and stronger," he said. "I went up 100 pounds on my squat since last year. I'm way stronger than I was."

"I'm faster. Last year, I ran a 5.4 and now I run a 5 flat."

Speed and strength are good, but attitude also plays a role and when Thompson talks younger players listen.

The goal, get over the hump - make and win state. But Thompson said the team will take things one game at a time.

"Right now we just want to be capable of beating Chester," he said. "We have to take it one game at a time."

Thompson just wants to help and defensive line coach Todd Davis believes he will.

"Tevin is going to be a big part of our play on defense," said Davis. "He's got a good work ethic. He's short in stature, but his heart makes up for it. He's always going to be there, always around the ball, wherever the ball's at and he's going to be our anchor on the defensive line."

Davis, like Lipsey, expects more from Thompson as a leader.

"It's good to have somebody out there that's going to get every ounce out of the other 10," he said.

Thompson would love to impress scouts and play football in college. The biggest thing he offers ...

"I've got heart," he said.

Notes: Thompson throws shot put on the track team and is a member of the Beta Club ... The team will dedicate the season to Marisha Jeter and Kayla Brooks, both part of the senior class, who died last year.


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