March 27, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A reflective Chris Thompson admitted last week that “a couple of times” he wondered if his football-playing career had come to a premature end on Oct. 8, 2011.
It was on that day that Thompson, Florida State’s starting running back at the time, sustained two fractured vertebrae in his back against Wake Forest — an injury that sent him to a North Carolina hospital overnight and into a back brace in Tallahassee.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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After a long and arduous rehabilitation process, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher then announced last month that his lone senior running back was healthy enough to take part in spring practice.
Physically, Thompson had healed quickly. Mentally, he still wasn’t quite back to 100 percent — that is, until spring practice actually started March 19.
“Once I stepped on the field [last] Monday it was like, ‘Man, I feel good — I’m back on the field again,'” Thompson said. “Mentally I’m pretty positive about everything and feel good about it.”
Thompson’s speedy return shouldn’t come as a shock.
Those who have followed the former Madison County star throughout his career know of the character, drive, work ethic and leadership qualities that define Thompson as a football player, student and person.
But even he admits that his hasty return was a bit of a surprise.
“At first I didn’t think I would be able to come back in the spring but I think I progressed really well and I did everything the trainers wanted me to do as far as rehab and everything,” Thompson said. “I’m just excited to be able to come back in the spring and be able to try to get better now and hopefully it’ll just follow along once camp comes around in August.”
Thompson will have to keep progressing despite another injury unrelated — but not nearly as serious — to the one that sidelined him last season.
He doesn’t recall how it happened but the speedy tailback broke his left hand at practice last week and is now in a cast — a predicament that actually may prove to be beneficial. As a natural lefty, Thompson is having to do all of his work this spring by carrying the football in his right hand and arm only.
Since he was already held out of full contact to keep his back healthy anyway, the hand injury hasn’t prevented him from running with the first team during non-tackling drills on the practice fields.
“He’s been doing great,” Fisher said. “What I have been happy with is there hasn’t been any pain in his back or hadn’t tightened up and he went through every practice and done everything. He hasn’t missed a rep.”
“It’s been fun,” Thompson added. “Honestly, I’ve just been cherishing every day. It’s a blessing to be back out there after the stuff that I’ve had to deal with last season.
“I’m just trying to go out, have fun and get better every day.”
WHY NO. 4?
Players change jersey numbers in the offseason all the time but fans take special notice when seniors make the switch after becoming synonymous with a certain number through their career.
In Thompson’s case that familiar number was 23, which he had worn since his freshman season in 2009, before switching to No. 4 this offseason.
While many players simply switch to get as low of a number as possible, Thompson’s decision to change was based on paying homage to someone he has looked up to since high school: former FSU defensive back Mikhal Kornegay, who also wore No. 4 at the end of his FSU career.
“When he found out that I did [switch], that put a smile on his face and that made me feel good,” Thompson said.