Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 9/12/12
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Chris Thompson is trying to treat this week as he would any other game week. Except he cant. Thompson was FSUs star tailback in 2010, rushing for a team-leading 845 yards. But his junior season was halted just five games in, as he broke two vertebrae in his back in the first quarter at Wake Forest. Just facing them after my injury, its a pretty emotional time for me, Thompson said of Saturdays home game with the Demon Deacons. But I still have to get prepared the same way that I prepared for the previous two games and not let my emotions get the best of me. Thompson spent two nights in a hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., but the fractures were stable and he did not require surgery. He admitted that there were a few dark moments when he wondered if he would be able to play football again. But he spent the offseason working with FSUs training staff, at first overcoming the challenge of just running let alone running fast. But the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Thompson kept working with trainers, strengthening his back to get him ready to play in 2012. FSU players and coaches were mindful of his every move. I never saw him in any way, shape or form not feel comfortable on the field or shy away from anything, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. We were probably more hesitant than he was. Thompson was brought along slowly. He missed most of the spring with a hand injury but that also gave him time to rehabilitate his back. Thompson returned to the practice field in August and often wore a blue, non-contact jersey. Soon he was ready to face contact in FSUs scrimmages, taking the hits and popping right back up. He was able to show the speed right away this August, and after one practice he smiled and said, I feel better than my old self, to be honest. Thompson has shown that burst to the outside but has also displayed toughness with some runs up the middle. He is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and had a 6-yard touchdown run in the 55-0 win over Savannah State. I think he's as quick and as fast and as strong as hes ever been, Fisher said. James Wilder Jr. has six inches and 40 pounds on Thompson. And Devonta Freeman also is 25 pounds bigger than Thompson. But Fisher and running backs coach Eddie Gran have been using Thompson frequently in short-yardage situations, and hes delivered by moving the chains. Thompson said that after the injury he has more determination and wants to show that hes more than a tailback who runs fast. All of the coaches talk about us making a guy miss, Thompson said. Thats where the big plays come from. I want to make a guy miss and get those extra yards after contact. Ive been running the ball a lot harder than I have in the past. I think at first it was a whole thing about trying to prove to everybody that Im back. I should just be proving to myself, but I think it all really helped me out in the end. Thompson will try to remain focused on Saturdays game, but he will surely flash back to last years game and the time he spent in the hospital. Fisher visited Thompson that night and brought with him a small gift from one of his sons, Ethan Fisher. Ethan, who was then 6, had made the trip with his parents to the Wake Forest game. He was concerned about Thompson and gave his dad one of his favorite toys a blue car and wanted the running back to have it while he was in the hospital. Ethan Fisher has Fanconi anemia, and will one day need a bone marrow transplant. But Ethans gesture meant everything for Thompson that day, and Thompson still has the car. I keep it in my bookbag, Thompson said. Its always with me. It really put a smile on my face when Coach Fisher gave it to me. Thompson has always been one to smile, even through the lengthy rehabilitation to his back and the injury this spring to his wrist. Im just thankful that Im able to come back feeling good and feeling like myself again, Thompson said.
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