February 13, 2008 Edition

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Hoxie's Tyler Thompson signed a letter of intent last Wednesday to play football at Ouachita Baptist University. On hand for the signing were (front, from left): his grandmother, Joyce Booth; his mother Regina Bland; (back) Hoxie head football coach Tom Sears and Hoxie defensive coordinator Sean Cockrell.

Thompson signs with OBU

Gretchen Hunt

Hoxie standout Tyler Thompson will continue his football career at the college level after signing a letter of intent to play at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.

Thompson, who played middle linebacker and full back at Hoxie, is expected to play middle linebacker for OBU, as well.

He said he is looking forward to the new environment of college football, which he described as "faster and bigger." He said he is also looking forward to continued improvement.

Hoxie head football coach Tom Sears said Thompson has already seen a lot of improvement during his three years as a Mustang.

"He epitomizes what we try to teach our kids ~ play physical football," Sears said. "That's what the recruiters saw on tape, that he is a very physical football player."

Coach Brett Shockley, offensive line and tight ends coach for OBU, is the recruiter for this area of the state. He said he was very impressed with the tape he saw of Thompson.

"The biggest thing we liked about Tyler was his toughness and his physical play," he said. "He can deliver a blow."

Shockley also said Thompson has a "nose for the ball" and wherever the ball was, Thompson was there making a tackle, causing a fumble or making an interception.

"We also like his athleticism," Shockley said. "He can run from sideline to sideline and do something once he gets there."

In 2007, Thompson recorded 120 tackles bringing his three-year total at HHS to 285. He also played offense for the Mustangs racking up 650 rushing yards during his senior season for a career total of 1,100 yards.

At 6'0" and 210 pounds, Thompson was named All-State following the Hoxie Mustangs' first time ever in the third round of the state playoffs. In addition, he and fellow senior, Derek Johnson, were named to The Jonesboro Sun's Best Under the Sun team.

Meeting the coaches and other players at Hoxie has been a highlight for Thompson.

"I've made some lifelong friends," he said.

He said he believes his time at Hoxie has prepared him well for competition at the college level.

"The coaches taught us discipline and respect," he said. "They taught us don't give up until you reach your goal."

Thompson also gave credit to his family. His mother is Regina Bland of Walnut Ridge, and he is the grandson of Joyce Booth of Paragould. He also has a brother, Jordan Bland.

"My family has been a big help to get me through," he said. "I never would have been able to make it this far without them."

His mother gave Thompson the credit for his efforts, though.

"I'm real proud of him," she said.

In addition to OBU, others showing interest included Arkansas Tech, Austin Peay, Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee-Martin. Academics are also a priority for Thompson and in the end helped him make his final choice for OBU.

"I want to be a dentist," he said, citing OBU as a good school for those wanting to enter a medical field.

"He made sure he took care of his business in the classroom, as well, and opened more doors for himself," Sears said.

Shockley said Thompson will be an asset for the university and the football team.

"He's a great young man," the coach said. "We're glad to get a young man of his character and ability."

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