Texas safety Jerrin Thompson, "The D-line is looking nasty. Mean, nasty, and violent."

Eric Nahlinby:Eric Nahlin08/17/23

A candid Jerrin Thompson met with Texas media on Wednesday. The senior safety spoke about numerous aspects of the team and the sport, including the defensive line making life easier for the secondary, freshmen who are impressing, a few team superlatives, and much more.

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Which running back is hardest to tackle?

“We got a few running backs, they all got a different type of style when they carry the ball. It’s really knowing who you’re dealing with. Some guys you gotta bring a little lower pad level. Some guys you know are going to try to give you a little shift and you gotta get your feet a little tighter. I don’t know, I really couldn’t tell you because we had some backs last year that were hard to tackle. So, going from that and just getting better reps against great backs. It’s just a lot of good competition going on.”

Hardest receivers to cover?

“It’s easily the older guys, they got experience, they know how to beat you with technique and stuff like that. So really the guys like Jordan (Whittington) who have been doing this thing.”

Arch Manning’s 50-yard TD run in the Saturday scrimmage 

“Arch had a good Summer and Spring, we could see that he could run during Spring. It really wasn’t surprising to me that he took off like that.”

Fastest speed time on the team he’s heard of?

“We have guys clocking 23 (mph) I believe. Keilan (Robinson), X, we got about three or four guys.”

A reporter asks him who is X. “Xavier (Worthy). You could of knew that one,” Thompson replied semi-jokingly. 

On Jalen Catalon

“He was a good fit for us. He came, he understood what he needed to do. Obviously he has tons of reps. He knows how to play the safety position — All-American. He knows how to play the safety position. He’s very communicative. He’s very energetic. He’s going to be a good guy for us.”

What’s Thompson’s new role with so many new faces in the secondary?

“Same role I’ve always had. Be a leader out there. Be a safety. Put guys around me and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

His specific offseason goals

“One thing I focused on is really identifying formations, things I can get ahead, alert my guys for things to happen, not just pre-snap but post-snap, certain (route) stems and stuff. I took a lot of time watching film seeing if I could get a heads up before the play.” 

On his interception during the Saturday scrimmage 

“I was just basically a Cover 2 safety reading the quarterback. Quinn he was looking one way, he stayed that way, I was just waiting and broke on it.”

Young players making an early impression

“Our young guys came in and some of our transfers came in. Like you said, Malik (Muhammad) he’s showing tremendous improvement from him coming in in the Spring and understanding what he needs to do, he’s showing effort. Gavin Holmes, our corner from Wake Forest, he showed that he understands the game as well. Just being able to communicate with guys and grow relationships with them getting on the same page. Like I said, you gotta know who you’re dealing with and that’s the same thing on defense. Some corners like to play press, some corners like to play off. That’s one thing we understand with each other as a safety. That’s one thing I take key pride in and try to figure out how to make the best down.”

On freshman safety Derek Williams

“Man, Derek, he’s one of the freshmen that you don’t see, freshmen learn that fast and understand college football. The jump from high school to college football is tremendous, you learn coverages and techniques and stuff like that. Derek has shown he’s one of those players that loves to learn. Coach Gideon likes that about him. He’s just showing improvement every day.”

What could Thompson have been better at last year?

“I believe just on angling to the ball. I feel like me personally I missed a lot of big tackles out there that I should have brought down. Making sure we have leverage on everything, just making sure we’re going to get this guy down.”

Defensive back Jelani McDonald 

“He’s one of them players, he’s going to be on (special) teams, he’s going to be a guy that plays early. Just being able to be long like that and he also has a feel for the game. He shows a lot of effort, too. That’s why I said special teams is going to be big for him.” 

On the 2023 D-line

“Maaan, the D-line is looking nasty. Mean, nasty, and violent. They’re making our job in the back end 10 times easier, I promise.” 

What the D-line has done recently to make him say that

“I was watching film last night how I was in the post and they closed every gap. When you’re in post defense that means we have every gap covered. They were making our job easier, as a post safety I was just deep, I didn’t have to come down and fit anywhere. Them blowing things (up), taking two-fers, taking gaps, that’s great. That’s going to make our job easier for sure.”

Regarding field cornerback competition 

“It’s competitive. We don’t know who it’s going to be. We got guys going, and that’s what you want, you want guys competing. You want guys striving to be the best. In our cornerbacks room, we got some depth back there.”

A player who could surprise this year

“That may surprise us…I want to say D-Will (Derek Williams). People are talking about him but he’s really showing a lot of growth to be a freshman.”

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On creating more takeaways this season

“Especially on days when we’re not tackling, we’re thinking about the ball. Those are the best days to work the ball when you’re not taking anybody to the ground, why not work at the ball? And that’s one thing I feel that we’ve improved tremendously from even last year. This Fall camp we’ve had plenty of turnovers, punching the ball, interceptions, tips, overthrows, even sacks. That’s one thing that we’ve grown and focused on, trying to get the ball back.”

Who’s going to lead the secondary in picks?

“It’s going to be me.”

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