Boise State redshirt freshman cornerback Darian Thompsons terrific summer in the weight room was about more than the usual big three bigger, stronger, faster.
He trained his attitude, too.
I trained myself to be more aggressive, he said. Now I dont have to think about working hard. It just comes.
Thompson made a surprisingly impactful college debut last week in the Boise State football teams 17-13 loss at Michigan State.
He played half the game at strong safety, made six tackles and recovered a fumble. Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake wanted to get Thompson in the game as a reward for his outstanding offseason, but Thompson was pressed into full-time duty in the second half because of an illness that sidelined starter Jeremy Ioane.
(Thompson) played tough, which I expect him to do, Lake said. I always love to coach a tough player and will always play a tough player over a guy who knows what hes doing.
Thompson is both.
He arrived at Boise State a year ago expecting to play cornerback or safety. He made plays at cornerback in his first fall camp and switched to safety in spring ball when Lake, in his first year, took note of his 6-foot-1, 197-pound frame.
Now, Thompson can play any spot in the secondary cornerback, strong safety or free safety.
Hes handled it really well, Lake said. Hes just young right now. Youll continue to see him grow and grow in this defense as long as he stays with that same approach that, Hey, every day Im going to get better.
Boise State found Thompson at Paraclete High in Lancaster, Calif., where as a senior he grabbed seven interceptions and set several school records as a wide receiver. He was an under-the-radar recruit who pounced on the Broncos scholarship offer as soon as it was delivered.
It was his first.
I really wanted to go to Boise State, he said, adding that several WAC schools offered scholarships after the Broncos.
Thompson has shown up as a playmaker throughout his time at Boise State, particularly in scrimmages. He grabbed two interceptions in the public fall scrimmage this year.
At Michigan State, he scooped up the fumble forced by cornerback Bryan Douglas.
Very exciting, Thompson said of his debut. That was a great game hard-fought. My first time, obviously. I was a little nervous, but as things got rolling, I got smooth.
Thats also the word he uses to describe his transition from cornerback to safety. He enjoys the freedom of safety and says playing multiple positions has helped him on the field.
It helps you figure out how youre going to play yours, he said.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat