LaMarcus Thompson is a starting outside linebacker for the Tennessee football team, who has had a lot of experience since his redshirt freshman season. During his first two eligible seasons, he saw action in all 26 games, including the 2007 SEC Championship game and the 2008 Outback bowl.
Last season, Thompson started 11 games but missed two games because of injuries. This season, Thompson plays the role of a senior leader in defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox’s new defense. Thompson has proudly accepted this role.
“I just have to lead by example,” Thompson said. “I have to let those guys know how to practice and how you’re supposed to play. I just try to show them how it’s supposed to be done. And I think we saw a good example this week about what happens when you don’t do that. I think we all learned the hard way, and we’re going to work on getting that better.”
UT coach Derek Dooley is well aware of the importance of senior leaders like Thompson to a relatively young UT roster.
“He’s playing very consistant football,” Dooley said. “He’s shown some great leadership, and I appreciate how he’s bought into the things that we’re doing. He’s been a steady hand for us at Sam linebacker.”
Thompson is from Lithonia, Ga., and is very proud of his hometown.
“It’s a great place,” he said. “You experience a lot coming from my high school, all walks of life. You see a lot of different characters up there, and you’re just going to get a full wash of what’s going on. Plus, we have a pretty good band. I always liked listening to our band.”
He was a standout linebacker for Redan High School, where he was a two-time all-state player and the all-DeKalb/Rockdale County player. He was a four-year starter and a two-time captain. He also lettered for two years in track and served as a three-year captain for the golf team at Redan. As a junior, he was the football team’s MVP. During his senior season, he tallied 120 tackles with 11 sacks and eight forced fumbles.
Thompson enrolled at UT in 2006 and redshirted his first year. During his freshman season in 2007, Thompson played in every game as a special teams contributor. He tied for fourth on the team with 10 special teams tackles.
His football career began as a kid looking to spend more time with his friends.
“All my other friends were playing football for a little park league,” Thompson said. “I was like, ‘Man, I want to do this too,’ so I wouldn’t feel left out. So I started playing ball and kind of got good at it.”
As a Vol, Thompson’s favorite moments are defeating Kentucky last season in Lexington and a famous UT tradition.
“My favorite moment was beating Kentucky in overtime,” Thompson said. “How it felt, that moment, the feeling, it never gets old. Also, running out the T, it will never get old either.”
He credits the Neyland Stadium game-day atmosphere as a major factor in his decision to play for Tennessee.
“The stadium and the fans made me want to come here,” Thompson said. “I love the stadium and the fans here. They’re wild and crazy and love their Tennessee football. So, I had to be a part of it.”
He credits Michael Jordan as his favorite athlete and former linebacker Al Wilson as his favorite UT player.
His favorite movie is “Transformers,” and if he could meet any celebrity, it would be the movie’s lead actress, Megan Fox.
His favorite food and drink are pizza and lemonade. Thompson said his favorite color is red and linebackers coach Lance Thompson is his favorite coach. Off the field, Thompson is a political science major. He also credits fellow senior linebacker Nick Reveiz as his favorite teammate, as well as the Reveiz’ house as his favorite hangout spot.
His least favorite SEC team is Florida, but his favorite team to play against is Alabama.
“The atmosphere of the ’Bama game is always amazing,” Thompson said. “The Third Saturday of October, it’s just one of those games where it’s always special no matter what.”
Thompson will play a major role in UT’s matchup this week against LSU in Baton Rogue, La. Thompson realizes the challenge that he and the Vols will face against the Tigers.
“Coming into LSU, they have a lot of great players with athletic abilities,” Thompson said. “We have to get a better job of corralling to the ball and wrapping up. We were working on that and doing tackling drills so we can perfect that.”
Dooley also realizes the importance of Thompson and the veteran linebacking corps for Saturday’s game.
“They’re going to have to bring what they bring every week,” Dooley said. “They need to be affecting others in a real positive way, and hopefully they can do that.”