Florida State receiver Warren Thompson is looking to put his controversial comments he was misled by the Seminoles coaching staff about COVID-19 test results behind him.
Thompson spoke with reporters Tuesday for the first time since he posted a statement on social media on Aug. 12 accusing FSU coach Mike Norvell and the staff of “lying” to him about the team’s COVID-19 safety protocols. He later deleted the Twitter post and posted an apology for his comments four days later before deleting his account.
“We just came to an agreement,” Thompson said of his discussions with Norvell. “I want to be with my team and I want to be with my coach and play football. This is what I want to do and I feel safe here and I’m ready to play ball.”
Norvell told reporters on Aug. 17 that he spoke with Thompson and that they “were moving forward together.”
The team released its depth chart for Saturday’s season opener against Georgia Tech Monday and Thompson was listed as one of the starting receivers along with Tamorrion Terry and Keyshawn Helton.
“It was pretty good because of the work that I put in. It’s been a long journey,” said Thompson, a redshirt sophomore who had six catches for 91 yards last season. “I didn’t want that to dictate all of the hard work that I’ve put in, so I’m just glad thatit can still pay off.”
Thompson’s teammates have noticed a change since he skipped workouts immediately after his Twitter post and later returned to the team.
“Since he’s been back, I can see a commitment to having a great mindset and approaching practice every day with, ‘I’ve got to get better every day, I have to attack that 1%,’” junior tight end Camren McDonald said of Thompson. “It’s easy to have that mindset within this program because that’s the standard, but I see Warren emphasizing that every day because he has a smile on his face, he’s ready to practice and when he’s in the right state of mind, he’s almost unstoppable.”
Thompson said he has not been doing anything different in his approach to the game. “I’m always kind of driven to be better in all aspects and I really think that Coach Norvell brings that out of me all the time,” the 6-foot-3, 201-pound receiver said. “The relationship that I have with Coach Norvell, I know that he has my back on certain things like that. It’s tough but that’s my coach and he’s willing to show he has my back in all situations and I’ve got his.”
Florida State’s offensive line play has been the program’s Achilles heel as of late, with the Seminoles ranked among the worst teams in the country after allowing 84 sacks during the past two seasons.
But a renewed effort from a new coaching staff has some on the team believing the Seminoles’ 2020 linemen can deliver dramatic improvement.
“I definitely see improved offensive line play,” McDonald said. “I’m excited for those guys to get an opportunity to rewrite the narrative about the Florida State offensive line. They’re not going to be the weak link of the team anymore. I think they’re one of the strongest units on the team and I’m excited for them to go out there and show it as well.”
New offensive line coach Alex Atkins has seen progress in practice as well, but he knows none of it matters if his players don’t perform on game day. “Every day is a new day,”
Atkins said. “What you did yesterday really doesn’t matter, you’ve got to come and perform each day because we can do all of this work and if it doesn’t show, it doesn’t matter.”
“Now it’s about seizing the opportunity to show what you’ve done.”
Atkins said while some coaches stick with five starting linemen throughout the season, he expects the Seminoles to utilize a rotation, particularly since its a relatively young group playing the position.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I have had a small rotation between seven guys, which I think has been valuable for us,” Atkins said. “…There used to be a time when you put your five out there and you live and die with them, but I’ve had some success when I’ve been able to roll a few guys out there.”
ACC moving forward
The Atlantic Coast Conference released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the league is moving forward with all fall sports as planned, including football.
“After listening to our student-athletes and considering the further advice of our Medical Advisory Group, the Atlantic Coast Conference continues to proceed with its plans for competition in fall sports,” the statement read. “The majority of our student-athletes have indicated they wish to compete if public health permits, and that they have worked hard to enable themselves to compete safely.
“Any student-athlete must and will be able to choose not to compete at any time this season without losing scholarship support, and the decision to compete or not compete will not cost the student a season of eligibility.”
The league stated it will continue to monitor the COVID-19’s impact on its schools and will prepare to adjust schedules and games as needed.
Email Matt Murschel at firstname.lastname@example.org.