After becoming a folk hero for beating his archrival and a national hero for firing the Outback Bowl’s game-winning touchdown pass, Dylan Thompson still took time to be his other role – big brother.
“We’ll go out and throw some and work out a little bit, but we focus on Christ, and how he can help his teammates out,” South Carolina’s backup quarterback said. “I try to help him out with situations I’ve been in and advice I can give him.”
“He” and “him” is younger brother Daniel Thompson, a junior at Boiling Springs High. Even though Dylan has gained legendary status after his 2012 season, he pays no attention to the rock-star treatment.
There are more important things.
“We talk every day,” Daniel said. “He asks if I’m staying alert, and how life is going. If I’m being accountable with my walk in Christ. Good advice.”
Dad Danny Thompson never intended his two boys to become quarterbacks. He knew they’d be involved in sports, but figured he’d give them options – a theme that the elder Thompson feels that kids have gotten away from – to play several sports, then pick one to specialize in when they are older.
“I was an average athlete,” said Danny, who coaches football at Rainbow Lake Middle School and is a former defensive end at Dorman High. “I had a goalpost in my backyard. Dylan used to kick field goals when he was 2 or 3 years old. I had two golf holes. We played football for a while, then hit golf balls, putt. We played ’em all.”
Dylan played for his dad in middle school and wanted to be the quarterback, but rather than hear cries of nepotism from the other parents, Danny played his son elsewhere. His oldest boy played safety, running back, receiver and tight end until his sophomore year at Boiling Springs, when he switched to QB.
That was all it took. Although Dylan had an offer from Louisiana Tech to play basketball, once Steve Spurrier met with the family and offered a football scholarship, Dylan was a Gamecock quarterback.
“He doesn’t push us to play quarterback,” Dylan said. “All he ever tells us before every game, if we’re at home, ‘Y’all are wearing garnet, they’re wearing something else. Try to throw it to the garnet guys.’ ”
Through it all, Daniel was the usual kid brother, trying to emulate Dylan and naturally, beat him. “He beat up on me a little bit, a good bit,” Daniel said. “I was the typical younger brother, running to mom and dad when he hit me. We fought a little bit. Now it’s a lot more hanging out and talking.”
Daniel already has a scholarship offer from Newberry. He’s learning the tricks of the position after splitting time between QB and receiver during his first two seasons.
Big brother is always around to lend an ear, or a hand. Dylan was an instructor at the Bobby Bentley Quarterback-Receiver Camp at Byrnes High in June, with Daniel as a camper.
“Dylan is Daniel’s quarterback coach,” Danny said. “He talks to him two or three times a day. I always told him to be the last one off the practice field, the last one out of the weight room. Don’t let anybody out-work you.”
“We always just had fun and competed, and he’d get real frustrated, but now he’s getting older,” Dylan said. “We don’t even focus on football. He’ll ask me, ‘If this team’s playing this, what should we run?’ but it’s never too serious.”
Danny has Daniel in the house for two more years, and his youngest son says he’ll play football and other sports. Boiling Springs recently started a lacrosse team and Daniel wants to go out for the team. He said he hopes to add scholarship offers and maybe follow in Dylan’s footsteps as a big-game hero.
“There’s always that pressure,” Daniel said. “I want to be better. Dylan always tells me, ‘Don’t be me, be you. Have fun and play the game of football.’ ”