Lake’s Thompson opts to stay near home with Hornets

Lake Forest High’s Kristopher Thompson (left) talked with teammate Zyaire Elliott during the preseason. Delaware State News file photos

DOVER — Kris Thompson remembers when the lightbulb first went on.

It was during his sophomore football season at Lake Forest High and he switched from linebacker to the defensive line.

Up until then, Thompson was just a big, athletic kid who played the sport because he could.

“One of our linemen got hurt and I got put in,” he remembered. “I got three sacks and some tackles. Coach (Lou) Copio told me they were going to move me to line. I think that was the best decision I ever made.

“I fell in love with the game,” Thompson added. “I felt like I definitely wanted to play football in college after that.”

Now Delaware State is going to give him that opportunity. A second-team All-Stater in the fall, Thompson recently committed to the Hornets and coach Rod Milstead.

A fifth-place finisher in the DIAA wrestling state tournament who also plays lacrosse, Thompson is considered athletic for his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame. Considering he’s only starting to get serious about weight-lifting, Lake Forest coach Freddie Johnson thinks Thompson’s best football is still in front of him.

“I think, at first, he was just playing the sport,” said Johnson. “But then, I think, as he got older, he fell in love with the sport and started getting better and better. He started noticing how he could dominate.

“I think he’s just starting to buy-in and realize his potential. … I think he has a lot more untapped potential. Being in a program like Delaware State, he has a chance to put on about 25 or 30 pounds. I think he’s going to be a good Division I football player for them.”

Delaware State will have a rebuilt defensive line next season.

Thompson (No. 66) was a second-team All-State defensive lineman for Lake Forest as a senior this fall.

The Hornets graduated three of their four starters up front, including All-MEAC selection Brandon Carswell along with veteran Christian Johnson and Moses Dupre. Those three played in all 12 games last fall.

A two-way lineman in high school, Thompson said he’s grown to really like playing on the defensive side of the ball.

“You can get really physical, more one-on-one — like ‘I’m going to beat you,’ on that side,” he said.

Thompson actually wasn’t sure he wanted to play NCAA Division I college football at first. He turned down DSU when the Hornets offered him a scholarship in the fall.

He was considering Wesley College and Salisbury and also took a visit to Georgetown. A 4.0 student who finished in the top 20 in his class, Thompson wanted to focus more on school.

He plans to major in nursing in college.

Eventually, however, Thompson changed his mind about Delaware State. He’s going there on academic scholarships.

“The coaches were extremely nice whenever I talked to them,’ said Thompson. “Even when I didn’t want to go there at first, they still greeted me with open arms after I decided that that was my best choice. And financially, it was the best decision.

“I worried a little bit — I did decline the offer at first. But then when I talked to Coach Johnson and Coach Milstead, they were completely cool about it. It was nice knowing they would still welcome me.”

“I’m excited for him,” said Johnson. “He’s a great athlete. He’s an awesome student. He’s a fine young man. I’m glad that he’s getting an opportunity to attend DelState and play at the next level.

“I think they’re getting a good, quality guy who’s going to represent them well, on and off the field. He’s going to do really well in the classroom.”

Thompson, whose mother Kelly was an All-State softball player at Smyrna High, said he’s looking forward to the challenge of trying to help the Hornets get turned around. He likes the idea of playing close to where he grew up.

“Some people want to go far away from home,” he said. “But I felt like if you get to represent your state at a ‘DI’ college, and you don’t have to go far away from your family, I think that’s the best choice.”