Thompson draws comparison to Mario Williams
The comparison was on everyone's lips on the practice field outside Shuart Stadium Friday.
The size. The strength. The speed. Even Aaron Thompson's jersey number made the Long Island All-Star coaches think of a certain All-Pro defensive end.
"He's like a mini Mario Williams," said Roosevelt coach and Long Island defensive coordinator Joe Vito. "He's got it all."
If the Deer Park product can put on his best Super Mario impression against New York City in Tuesday's Empire Challenge at Shuart Stadium, his Long Island squad could end up on top for the second straight year.
The 6-4 Thompson wore number 54 throughout his Deer Park career, but was switched to 90 for this game -- the same number that Buffalo Bills end Mario Williams wore during his five years with the Houston Texans.
"I consider myself my own player," said Thompson of the comparison to Williams. "But yeah, I guess you could say I'm sort of like him."
Thompson, a Newsday second team All-Long Island selection last season, anchors a strong defensive line that will have its hands full against New York City's offensive front. But he says that there's one thing that should help him on game day -- his speed.
"I use my speed to my advantage," Thompson said. "People look at me and think, 'Oh, he's a little slower because he's so big,' but then my speed will catch them off guard."
That speed will be crucial to help the senior make plays. According to the game rules, blitzing is not allowed, meaning defensive ends like Thompson have to be prepared to stop the run as well as get to the quarterback.
"The ends have a lot of responsibility," said Thompson, who registered a career-high eight sacks last season for the Falcons. "You need to be a little more conscious about what you're doing, you need to be a little more smart and not be as quarterback hungry."
That shouldn't be a problem for Thompson. He hasn't missed a step yet in practice as he displayed his ability to both stop the run and pressure the quarterback during Friday's drills.
"He's what you look for from a defensive end," said Newfield coach Joe Piccininni, who is also the Long Island defensive line coach. "A high-motor guy, one that's fast enough to get up field but yet still able to contain and execute his assignment."
Thompson will attend Stony Brook in the fall, where he hopes his style of play will make an immediate impact at the next level.
"Even if I don't play my first year," he said, "I plan on making the starters work harder, since they're going to get my 100 percent."