Making a decision really wasn’t that difficult, though, because Thompson’s NFL dreams as a youngster involved the Miami Dolphins, only natural considering he grew up in Broward County.
So here he is now, living out his childhood dream as a member of the Dolphins since signing with the team two days after the draft.
“It’s a dream come true,” Thompson said. “All my life, I remember when I was a little kid, my mom bought me this Dolphins outfit with a helmet. I used to run around the house all around with it. Ever since I was a little boy ... it’s been a dream come true for me.
After playing at South Plantation High and then Boyd Anderson in Broward in high scool, Thompson spent the last four years in New Jersey playing for Rutgers University.
He played well enough there to share team defensive MVP honors in 2013 and, perhaps more importantly, to earn the chance to play in the NFL.
And as he attempts to earn a roster spot, he’ll be doing so with his family and friends nearby.
“I had (other teams) callling me, but at the end of the day, I wanted to stay home,” Thompson said. “I’m comfortable with my family here. Finally, for once, all my family can come to my games and watch me play at a prestigious level.”
Thompson (6-1, 250) is listed as a linebacker on the Dolphins roster after starting at defensive end at Rutgers the last two seasons, although he says his role in 2013 was more akin to that of an outside linebacker.
In his first two years at Rutgers, Thompson actually saw time both on the defensive line and at fullback. The fullback experiment ended after spring practice in 2011.
The offense-defense dual role actually was nothing new for Thompson, who was a running back and linebacker as a senior in high school.
“I miss carrying the rock, but I also love hitting instead of being hit,” he said. “So it’s a good experience.”
That Thompson is on the Dolphins roster is the result of his breakout senior season.
After racking up 40 tackles, including six for loss, and one sack in his first three college seasons combined, he finished 2013 with 51 tackles, including 7.5 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. One of those sacks came in the season opener against Fresno State when he took down Oakland Raiders second-round pick Derek Carr.
For his efforts in 2013, Thompson was honored at the team banquet with the co-defensive MVP honors along with linebacker Steve Longa.
“It was big,” Thompson said. “It was surprising. It was a big for me and it was a great accomplishment for me.”
After closing out his collegiate career with a five-tackle performance in the Pinstripe Bowl against Notre Dame, Thompson was disappointed to learn he had not been invited to the scouting combine.
But Thompson then used the Rutgers pro day to impress scouts, the most notable achievements being reported 40 times of 4.57 and 4.60.
Scouts were intrigued enough about Thompson’s athletic ability that he was asked to catch passes during the pro day.
“I told them, ‘Special teams, tight end, fullback, whatever you need me to do I can do and will dedicate myself to it and give it my all,’ ” Thompson told the Newark Star-Ledger. “I learned in a hurry that you have to do what they want, not what you may want. I have been playing football for as long as I can remember. I want to keep playing it.”
Getting to play with the Dolphins just makes it that much better.