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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : SPOTLIGHT

Thompson comes back strong

September 16, 2012|Mike Hiserman
  • Florida State running back Chris Thompson runs for one of his two touchdowns of 70-plus yards in the Seminoles' 52-0 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Florida State running back Chris Thompson runs for one of his two touchdowns… (Stacy Revere / Getty Images )

Less than a year ago, Florida State running back Chris Thompson lay in a North Carolina hospital with two broken vertebrae, an injury he sustained in a game against Wake Forest. It looked as if his career might be over.

Turns out, far from it.

Thompson returned to the Florida State backfield against Wake Forest on Saturday, getting his first extended playing time of the season for the fifth-ranked Seminoles. He celebrated by running for 197 yards in nine carries -- including touchdowns of 74 and 80 yards -- in the first half as Florida State won, 52-0.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, September 18, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
College football: A notebook of college football highlights in the Sept. 16 Sports section referred to Louisiana Monroe as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The team is a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

When he ran for a team-best 845 yards in 2010, Thompson had a school-record three touchdown runs of more than 70 yards. But just a few months ago, during the summer, he had doubts about his future. He also battled his emotions in preparing to face Wake Forest.

"It's a pretty emotional time for me," Thompson told reporters in the days leading up to the game. "It's something I can't just fully let go, having to go up against those guys again."

After the game, he said, "I was in that hospital bed and so many thoughts went through my mind. I didn't know if I wanted to play football again ... and I didn't know if I was going to be walking straight.

"I'm breathing, so I'm happy."

Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe was happy too. Sort of.

"I wish he waited until Clemson next week to have a big day, but it's good to see him back," Grobe said. "To see him come back from that injury is pretty special."

Boy of fall

Kenny Chesney is back in good graces with Tennessee football fans.

As a guest on ESPN's "GameDay," the country music superstar picked the Volunteers -- did he really have a choice? -- to beat Florida, much to the delight of thousands of orange-clad Tennessee fans who had gathered hours before the game.

The Luttrell, Tenn., native hasn't always been atop the charts of Vols fans, however. A few years ago his allegiance was questioned after he donned a Florida Gators football helmet during a performance in Gainesville. And later the same year, Chesney attended a Tennessee-Florida football game and was photographed posing with Gators cheerleaders.

A few Tennessee fans were so upset they emailed a Knoxville country music station, demanding that Chesney's songs be taken off the play list.

Chesney laughed off the criticism -- hey, when it comes to posing with the Florida cheerleaders, he's just a red-blooded American male -- and Saturday backed up his pick by saying Tennessee's skill-position players were every bit as good as Florida's. Locally, that made him a little extra popular -- but not a winner. Florida won, 37-20.

A dog's life

Russ was relentless. Faced with adversity, he stayed ready for any opportunity. "He could have gotten bitter, with everyone saying he couldn't get it done," Georgia Coach Mike Richt said. "... [But] he bowed his neck and won the job. I'm proud of him."

If this sounds like the start of an inspiring story about a scrub football player's rise to stardom, well, not quite.

Russ is an English bulldog who was introduced officially Saturday as Georgia's latest canine mascot, Uga IX. He had served as an interim mascot for 25 football games over four seasons. He didn't get the full-time gig before because he has brown patches of fur and other Ugas have been pure white.

He was finally rewarded for his loyalty, though, after a promotional effort by some Georgia fans who made "in Russ we trust" their mantra.

Georgia defeated Florida Atlantic, 56-20, improving Russ, er, Uga IX's record to 17-9.

One-liners

Auburn's overtime win over Louisiana Monroe avoided the Tigers' first 0-3 start since 1950.... Louisiana Monroe narrowly missed becoming the first Football Championship Subdivision team in 24 years to upset Football Bowl Subdivision teams in consecutive weeks.... Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas is averaging 15.3 yards every time he touches the ball, with 13 carries for 228 yards and four touchdowns, 11 receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns and seven punt returns for 93 yards.... Steve Spurrier won his 200th game as a college coach as South Carolina defeated Alabama Birmingham, 49-6.

--

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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