Being able to change the game. That’s the best feeling in football for Blue Devil running back Juwan Thompson.
“A run play can go from a 99 yard run to that 1 yard touchdown,” he said. “Or a big impact especially with a defensive guy trying to stop you. You hit that truck stick on them or you hit that move on somebody and it fires everyone else up.”
At 5’11” and 225 lbs, the senior has the size to hit the “truck stick” often, especially defensive backs. He said he doesn’t have a specific hit that stands out…at least in games. In practice? That’s a different story.
“Defensive backs try to go low,” senior Juwan Thompson said with a hint of a smile. “Especially Ross [Cockrell]. Ross is one of the main ones that likes to go low on me. I taught him a lesson a couple of times and told him to cut it out. After that time, he relaxed a little bit.”
Thompson said he got low as Ross did on the tackle and drove Ross into the ground. Hard. Thompson kept running.
“If you get as low as them and keep the legs driving, most of the time it’s not going to work,” he said.
Thompson set the record for running backs in the power clean by lifting 357 lbs. For comparison, the Duke media guide lists the offensive line record at 349 lbs. (held by guard Cody Robinson). Thompson said it’s a little tougher to do now as a senior (four years at running back have taken a toll), but he still challenges guys on the offensive line.
“They still can’t beat me,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t power clean [when he lifts], but if they want a challenge I’ll go ahead and put the weight on there and show them that anytime I can still get it up there.”
Those challenges are part of a connection with the guys on offense. He said the offense has gotten close through various activities this summer.
“We have a lot of fun,” he said. “Last week, me, Dave Harding, [Anthony] Boone, and [Brandon] Connette went and played nine holes of golf…It was like one of my first times going. It was a good bonding experience. Two hours, talking, having fun and making fun of each other.”
He was happy with his play as a first-time golfer.
“I didn’t even write the score down,” he said. “But out of everybody there I was like second place behind Connette, who plays a lot of golf. For me, I just look at that ball and hit it as far as I could…I did a little Happy Gilmore out there.”
But unlike Happy switching from hockey to golf, Juwan is sticking with football. Defensive backs beware.