Last year at this time, Everrette Thompson was a big question mark, sidelined with an Achilles tendon injury suffered in off-season conditioning.
Now, as the Huskies progress through another spring practice, Thompson is part of a defensive line lately making an exclamation point of a statement with its sterling play.
“It feels good just to run out there and enjoy spring ball,” Thompson said. “It’s the first time being healthy and learning the system and everything.”
Thompson recovered from the Achilles injury well enough to start all 13 games last year (including the Syracuse game, captured above in an Otto Greule photo).
But the Achilles injury meant that Thompson had to focus his off-season conditioning efforts on rehab and recovery and not on getting bigger.
Healthy this off-season, Thompson was able to work on adding lower-body strength and says he also has put on about 20 pounds, up to roughly 265 after playing last year in the 245-250 range.
“I feel more sturdier, healthier, moving around better,” he said.
That’s been noticed by UW coaches Steve Sarkisian.
“I think he’s having a very nice (spring),” Sarkisian said. “To his credit he doesn’t play just one position — we move him around quite a bit. I love his strength now — he’s finally got the leg strength needed to play in there and I thought he got better as the year went on last year. Through it all he had a good off-season. He’s a very strong kid upper-body wise and he’s got his lower body strength right and he has performed very well.”
Indeed, Thompson may be UW’s most versatile defensive lineman, starting eight games last year at end and five at tackle. He plays mostly end these days but moves to tackle in some alignments.
Thompson says he’s happy to do whatever he’s asked.
“It kind of shows off my versatility, I feel like, putting me in different packages, different groups — nickel, base defense all that,” he said. “It’s fun.”
Thompson has said in the past he prefers tackle, but feels comfortable at either spot.
“Oh man, when it comes down to it, it’s all the same thing,” he said. “But in pass rush situations, I like D-tackle because it’s just straight go-right-to-the-quarterback — just beat one guy. But wherever they need me.”
While he comes off fairly soft-spoken in interviews, Thompson has been lauded by coaches for his leadership this spring, one of two senior starters on the line along with tackle Alameda Ta’amu.
“I’m trying to be a little bit more vocal,” he said. “But I’m also a guy who likes to show by example — that’s what my coaches teach me.”
What’s unquestionable is how well the defensive line is coming together this spring.
“Oh definitely we’ve got a little chemistry going on with the defensive line,” Thompson said. “With Talia (Crichton) coming back and (Chris) Robinson and Sione (Potoa’e) and Lawrence (Lagafuaina) and all the young guys, too. It’s going good. It feels good to go out there and have fun, everybody firing off on all cylinders and having a good time playing ball.”