FLORENCE — Lamonte Thompson is confident his football-playing days are not over.
The former North Alabama running back has long dreamed of playing in the NFL, and he is working hard to make that dream a reality. The NFL draft is April 28-30, and while Thompson knows he is a long shot to get drafted he feels he will have a shot at a career in pro football.
“I try to keep it real with myself, so I’m not going around saying I’ll get drafted,” Thompson said. “Not many guys from Division II get drafted, but I’m almost positive some team will sign me as a free agent.”
Thompson showed he has the speed NFL teams are looking for during two workouts in March. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at Jacksonville State’s Pro Day and ran a 4.40 at a regional combine in New Orleans.
The former Florence star also showcased a 36-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot broad jump and showed his strength by doing 20 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press.
“There were about 15 NFL teams at Jacksonville State and they all seemed to like me,” he said. “I feel like I put up some really good numbers there. I was the fastest guy at both places, so that made me feel good. It was pretty exciting because I had never run that fast before.”
Thompson is coming off a senior season in which he ran for 1,212 yards on 235 carries (5.2 ypc.) and scored 10 touchdowns. He became the first UNA player to rush for 1,000 yards since 1997 and earned All-GSC and All-Super Region 2 honors.
A four-year starter for the Lions, Thompson finished as the school’s second all-time leading rusher with 3,524 yards.
Thompson understands it is tough for Division II players to make it in the NFL. He hopes the recent success of former West Alabama cornerback Malcolm Butler with the New England Patriots will lead to more Division II players being given a shot at making an NFL roster.
“Butler has shown what Division II players can do,” Thompson said. “I feel like his success will help all of us Division II guys out. I just want an opportunity, just like had got.”
Thompson was measured at 5-foot-6 ½ and weighed 185 pounds at the Jacksonville State Pro Day. While his size might not be what NFL teams are looking for in a feature back, Thompson said he is confident he can find a role.
“I think a lot of teams like me as a third-down back and on special teams as a kick returner,” he said. “We did position drills at both combines and I caught everything, so I feel like I’ve shown I can catch the ball and run good routes.”
Thompson said he has received plenty of positive feedback from NFL teams. He doesn’t care which team he goes to — he just wants an opportunity.
“I’m just waiting to get that call,” he said. “All I need is a shot to show them what I can do.”