Erroll Thompson football

Florence High grad and Mississippi State linebacker Erroll Thompson speaks to reporters Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Hoover. Thompson was voted a team captain for this season. [GREGG DEWALT/TIMESDAILY]

HOOVER — On the football field, Erroll Thompson is a terror at middle linebacker.

Voted as one of two Mississippi State captains for the upcoming season, Thompson heads into his junior season coming off a year in which he was named second team All-SEC after recording 87 tackles and two interceptions.

But give the Florence High grad a rod and a reel and he’s admittedly lost.

“I’m terrible at fishing,” he said Wednesday at SEC Football Kickoff Media Days. “I got some work to do. My teammates got me into it. Those guys fish for bass, for anything.”

Thompson said some of his teammates are really good at catching fish.

“Tim Washington is a great fisher,” Thompson said. “Osirus Mitchell is coming along; the other day he caught like eight.”

Thompson? Not so much.

“I don’t fish for anything. I don’t catch anything,” he said, laughing. “When I catch something, I definitely am going to cook it because that would be a great accomplishment.”

Lucky for Thompson, second-year coach Joe Moorhead isn’t relying on him to snag fish – just quarterbacks and running backs as the team’s leading returning defender from a star-studded squad that lost three players in the first round of the NFL draft.

How much faith do the Bulldogs have in Thompson? Enough that they voted him captain along with offensive lineman Daryl Williams.

Tight end Farrod Green has confidence Thompson will live up to the responsibility. He said Thompson has all of the qualities to be a good leader for the Bulldogs.

“Obviously, his play on the field,” Green said. “Off the field, the way he carries himself. He always comes to work, the same guy. Hardnosed, pushes my group – the tight ends. He picks me up when I am down; I pick him up when he is down. He’s just a great guy.”

Green said away from the field, Thompson is quiet and low key.

“It’s football, football, football,” he said. “It’s somebody you love to be around.”

Thompson said when he was recruited in high school, it was “neck and neck” between Alabama and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, though, had the edge thanks to a former teammate of Thompson’s at Florence, Beniquez Brown.

“I really wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Thompson said. “Beniquez was like a role model in high school. I looked up to him. He had about an 85 percent influence on me coming to Mississippi State. He was always just calling me, letting me know how the program was going and how things were working. He was always telling me it was a business decision, but it was my decision.”

Wanting to emulate Brown’s path made the difference.

“I knew I wanted to do the same thing Beniquez did,” Thompson said. “He’s a great player and a great leader.”

Thompson spent 2016 as a redshirt. He burst onto the scene in 2017, leading SEC freshmen with 46 tackles, and was named to the All-Freshman team. He nearly doubled that total last season.

“He gives opposing offenses headaches, so I love Errol Thompson,” Williams, the team’s other captain, said.

Heading into his junior season, Thompson is looking for bigger and better things. He has accepted his new role as team captain with enthusiasm.

“I was a little surprised they voted me captain,” he said. “I kind of had a feeling but I was surprised. It doesn’t really change anything. I will prepare the same way. It’s a great honor. It’s tough like any leadership – no matter if it is football or a business owner. I want to lead. The mike backer on any team has to be that leader.”

Thompson's defensive coordinator Bob Shoop was brought in before last year, and Thompson said they are on the same page.

“Once you deal with a coach for so long, you get used to the way he coaches and the way he does everything,” Thompson said. “A new guy comes in and you have to get used to him. So, it’s different, it just takes time.”

Second-year head coach Joe Moorhead calls Thompson “one of the top linebackers in the country.”

“He’s got great eyes,” he said. “To me the ability for a player to be successful is not as much about the tangible traits and production as it is the intangibles. And for those two guys to be elected captain by their peers after spring ball, it says a lot about what they bring to the table, you know, outside of what happens between the white lines.

“And I think when you combine their intangible traits with their tangible traits, they are going to be two special players this year and have an opportunity to play to the next level as well.”

Just don’t expect to see Thompson in the Bassmasters Classic anytime soon. But he’s working on it.

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