Dylan Thompson says a productive summer for quarterbacks and receivers is carrying over into preseason camp.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pound redshirt sophomore from Boiling Springs has a firm grasp on the Gamecocks’ No. 2 quarterback spot. His progress has already earned praise from coach Steve Spurrier.
“If something happens to (starting quarterback Connor Shaw), we have confidence he can go play,” Spurrier said. “He’s 6-3, he can run around, he can make all the throws. Dylan and Connor are real students of the game. We are pretty confident we have two quarterbacks who can get the ball up in the air to our receivers.”
Thompson played in four games in 2011. He scored an eight-yard rushing touchdown vs. Kentucky.
How was your summer?
I had a great summer. I tried to study as much as I could and worked out really hard. I felt like this was the hardest-working summer I’ve had here. Hopefully we’ll see the benefits from it.
Coach Spurrier has talked about your improvement. What’s he like as a coach?
He’s really encouraging. I think people get the wrong view of him a lot of times. He just wants to push us to get better each and every day. That’s what he’s doing with me right now. I love having a coach like that, who can really push me and make me a better player each day. I want to keep working and doing the same thing I’ve been doing, just study the play book and learn each day.
Does he walk over and give you advice during practice? If so, what kind of advice?
He gives me advice every rep, basically. It’s just little things, stuff you don’t think about too much, but when you do it, it works every single time. That’s just him and his experience. It’s a great opportunity to play for a coach who’s been there, done that and been successful at it. He’s helped me tremendously in learning the little things about the game.
Have you taken any of the other quarterbacks under your wing?
I’m trying to help about Brendan [Nosovitch] right now. We’re all just close. When you first get here, it’s different, being a young guy and especially him being from Pennsylvania. I want to make him feel comfortable and let him learn at his pace. I think he’s doing really well right now.
Talk about your relationship with Connor Shaw.
My relationship with Connor is great. We’re kind of the same: hard-working, blue-collar guys who come in and do extra stuff. Connor, he’s such a hard worker. You have all the respect for him because he comes in summers and watches his film and does extra work on the field. We basically had the same pattern this summer. Both of us would live in the mornings, come back in the afternoon and watch some film, then throw routes with the receivers. That was every day. This summer has been the most productive summer I’ve had here.
How can that productivity carry over into camp?
I think you’re already seeing some of it. We’re hitting a lot more balls in 7 on 7s and team drills. That’s what we wanted to happen, just be a lot more comfortable in what we’re doing. We’ve seen it all summer, how things are going to progress and how routes are going to come open. We’re trying to hit them out here in live action now.
For folks who haven’t seen you play, are you good at passing or running, or both?
I’d like to say both. I can run it, but I prefer to pass, to stay in the pocket and be patient, go through my reads and throw it around where the open spots are.
What have you seen from the new receivers: Jody Fuller, Kwinton Smith and Shaq Roland?
All of them bring something different. Jody’s a bigger-body guy that’s physical. Kwinton has great hands and great size, and he’s really smart. And then Shaq, he’s got the big-play ability. He can make somebody miss and take it to the house or go up and get it on somebody. Damiere [Byrd] had a really good summer, and Bruce Ellington as well, really learning their position and how to work vs. different defenses. That helped us a lot.
Is it nice to have the tight end depth you have?
It’s great. It’s crazy really, when you can two tight ends on the field that can run in the 4.5 range, get them stretching the field and running across the field. That’s tough for a linebacker to cover. That’s nice to have in your offense.
What are your goals for the quarterbacks this season?
I think we’re going to work hard. That’s a plain answer, but that’s what we’re about. I just expect us to be prepared each week and go out there and hopefully put out a good product. I can promise you we’re going work hard and do our best to prepare.