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John Thompson


Coaching Experience
2002 Florida (Defensive Coordinator)
2001 Arkansas (Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers)
2000 Arkansas (Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs)
Dec. 1999-Jan. 2000 LSU(Defensive Coordinator)
1999 Memphis (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
1993-98 Southern Mississippi (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
1992 Southern Miss (Defensive Coordinator/Inside Linebackers)
1990-91 Louisiana Tech (Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers, Defensive Ends)
1988-89 Northwestern (La.) State (Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Secondary, Linebackers)
1987 Alabama (Linebackers)
1983-86 Northwestern (La.) State (Defensive Coordinator,Defensive Secondary, Linebackers)
1982 Arkansas (Graduate Assistant)
1979-81 Arkadelphia (Ark.) HS (Defensive Coordinator)
1978 Forrest City (Ark.) HS (Assistant Coach /Defensive Secondary)
1977 Conway (Ark.) HS (Student Coach/Defensive Line)

Coaching Accomplishments

  • Joined the Gator staff on February 11th, 2002.
  • Has 21 years experience as a collegiate coach, including 19 years as a defensive coordinator.
  • Has coached in six bowl games.
  • Coached at four schools in the SEC, including stops at Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and LSU.
  • Four squads have led their conferences in defense (Arkansas led the SEC in total defense in 2000, Southern Miss led Conference USA in total defense in 1997 and 1998 and Northwestern (La.) State led the Gulf Star Conference in scoring defense in 1984
  • Coached five players who have earned All-America honors, including Southern Miss DE Adalius Thomas, Arkansas LB Jermaine Petty and Northwestern (La.) State LB Gary Reasons, DT Arthur Berry, S Michael Richardson.
  • Coached 40 players who have earned All-Conference recognition. Those players include: Northwestern (La.) State - DT Arthur Berry; DT James Boyd; LB Earnest Crittenden; S Michael Richardson; DE James Hall; LB J.T. Fenceroy; S Odessa Turner; LB Leonard Parker; LB Andre Carron; CB Randy Hilliard; All-Conference USA selections from Memphis DL Tremont Lawless; DL Marcus Bell; LB Kamal Shakir; FS Idrees Bashir; CB Michael Stone; DL Andre Arnold; from Southern Miss CB Patrick Surtain; LB Marchant Kenney; DL Cedric Walthaw; DB Perry Phenix; DL Robert Brown; DL Adalius Thomas; DB Jamaal Alexander; LB TJ Slaughter; LB Ty Trahan; DB Jose Gonzalez; DB DeShone Mallard; DL Cedric Scott; DB Leo Barnes; DL DeQuincy Scott; DB Terrance Parrish; All-SEC selections from Arkansas LB Jermaine Petty; LB Quinton Caver; from Alabama S Lee Ozmint; LB Randy Rockwell All-SEC selections from Florida: LB Bam Hardmon; FS Todd Johnson; CB Keiwan Ratliff; SS Guss Scott; DT Ian Scott)
  • Twenty one former players have signed NFL contracts, including second-round picks Patrick Surtain, Idrees Bashir and Michael Stone and sixth round pick Adalius Thomas.
  • In 2000, Arkansas led the SEC in total defense (292.1 ypg) and ranked 12th nationally. The Razorbacks also led the SEC in passing defense (153.0 ypg) and ranked second nationally.
  • After taking over as sole defensive coordinator in 2001, the Razorback defense improved from 10 INTs to 17 and six fumble recoveries to nine, resulting in an additional 10 forced turnovers.
  • Arkansas' defense also improved from 2000 to 2001 in sacks from 13 to 17 and tackles for loss from 60 to 70.
  • Second in the SEC and 28th in the nation with a plus-five turnover margin at Arkansas in 2001.
  • LB Jermaine Petty led the SEC in tackles with 140 in 2001.
  • In 2001, five Razorbacks were among the top eleven in single-game highs for tackles, including leader Jermaine Petty who recorded 20 tackles vs. Ole Miss.
  • The Florida defense ranked third in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 149.3 yards per game - the best pass defense by a UF team since 1988.
  • The Florida defense had 77 tackles for a loss in 2002 after having 74 a year ago.
  • Florida allowed just 10 rushing TDs, the second fewest in the SEC in 2002.
  • Florida ranked 22nd nationally in total defense in 2002.
  • Florida ranked second in the SEC in third down conversion defense and held Georgia 0-for-13 on third downs in UF's 20-13 win over the Bulldogs.
  • Florida averaged 24.9 yards per interception return, the best since the 1955 team averaged a school record 31.2 yards per return
  • Florida's two inside linebackers, ranked among the top 21 in the nation in tackles in 2002. Bam Hardmon ranked fourth and Mike Nattiel ranked 21st.

Playing Career

  • A defensive back at Central Arkansas and a prep quarter-back at Forrest City (Ark.) High School.

Prominent Players Coached


  • LB BAM HARDMON - Second Team All-SEC in 2002. Ranked Fourth in the nation in tackles.
  • FS TODD JOHNSON - Second Team All-SEC in 2002.
  • LB MIKE NATTIEL - Ranked 21st in the nation in tackles.
  • SS GUSS SCOTT - Second Team All-SEC in 2002.
  • DT IAN SCOTT - Second Team All-SEC in 2002.
  • CB KEIWAN RATLIFF - Second Team All-SEC in 2002.


  • CB AHMAD CARROLL - SEC All-Freshman team in 2001. Third team Freshman All-America.
  • LB QUINTON CAVER - All-SEC first team in 2000. Second round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001.
  • DE CARLOSHALL - Second team All-SEC in 2001.
  • FS KEN HAMLIN - First team All-SEC in 2001.
  • LB JEB HUCKABA - SEC All-Freshman team in 2001.
  • LB JERMAINE PETTY - AFCA All-American in 2001. First team All-SEC in 2001. Two-time National Player of the Week. Recorded 20 tackles in OT victory over Ole Miss in 2001.


  • FS IDREES BASHIR - First team All-Conference USA selection in 2000. Named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 1998. Second round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2001 NFL Draft.
  • LB KAMAL SHAKIR - Conference USA’s all-time tack-les leader with 417. Led Tigers in tackles three straight sea-sons.
  • CB MICHAEL STONE - Played in the 2000 Blue-Gray game and Senior Bowl. Second round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2001 NFL Draft.


  • DB LEO BARNES - Two-time first team All-Conference USA selection in 1999 and 2000. Signed free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans
  • LB MARCHANT KENNEY - Two-time All-Conference USA selection in 1996 and 1997.
  • LB TJ SLAUGHTER - Two-time All-Conference USA selection in 1998 and 1999. Selected in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • CB PATRICK SURTAIN - Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year recipient in 1997. First-team All-Conference USAselection in 1996 and 1997. Second round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1998.
  • DE ADALIUSTHOMAS - Two-time first-team All-American (1998, 1999). Back-to-back Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year recipient in 1998 and 1999. Two-time All-Confernce USA selection. Named to The Sporting News’ Freshman All-America Team in 1996. Chosen in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.


  • DB LEE OZMINT - All-SEC performer at safety in 1988.
  • LB RANDY ROCKWELL - Second team All-SEC per-former at linebacker in 1987.


  • LB GARY REASONS - Division I-AA All-American; Played on 1986 and 1991 Super Bowl, leading tackler in 1991 Super Bowl, College Football Hall of Fame
  • DE WILLIE FEARS - Played for Cincinnati Bengals in 1987 and also in the CFL
  • CB KEVIN LEWIS - Sixth Round Pick by the St. Louis Cardinals and three years with the San Francisco 49ers
  • S ROBERT MOORE - Four year starter for the Atlanta Falcons
  • CB RANDY HILLIARD - Played in two Super Bowls for Denver in nine seasons in the NFL
  • WR ODESSA TURNER - Played free safety in college before an NFL career at WR
  • SS DESHON JENKINS - Free Agent with the Miami Dolphins
  • LB LARRY ROBINSON - Free Agent with the Miami Dolphins
  • LB ANDRE CARRON - Free Agent with Houston Oilers
  • LB RANDY BULLOCK - Free Agent with Atlanta Falcons

NFL Players (Round drafted)

DB Jamaal Alexander (6th) - Southern Miss '98
-- Detroit Lions
DB Leo Barnes (FA) - Southern Miss '01
-- Tennessee Titans
FS Idrees Bashir (2nd) -Memphis '01
-- Indianapolis Colts
LB Randy Bullock (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State, '91
-- Atlanta Falcons
LB Andre Carron (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '91
-- Houston Oilers
LB Quinton Caver (2nd) - Arkansas '01
-- Philadelphia Eagles
DE Willie Fears (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '85
-- Cincinnati Bengals
DE Bobby Hamilton (FA) - Southern Miss '94
-- Seattle Seahawks
CB Randy Hilliard (6th) - Northwestern (La.) State '89
-- Cleveland Browns
SS Deshon Jenkins (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '86
-- Miami Dolphins
CB Kevin Lewis (6th) - Northwestern (La.) State '88
-- St. Louis Cardinals
S Robert Moore (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '85
-- Atlanta Falcons
LB Gary Reasons (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '83
-- N.Y. Giants
LB Larry Robinson (FA) - Northwestern (La.) State '84
-- Miami Dolphins
LB Jeff Posey (FA) - Southern Miss '98
-- San Francisco 49ers
LB TJ Slaughter (3rd) - Southern Miss '00
-- Jacksonville Jaguars
DL Daleroy Stewart (6th) - Southern Miss '01
-- Dallas Cowboys
CB Michael Stone (2md) - Memphis '01
-- Arizona Cardinals
CB Patrick Surtain (2nd) - Southern Miss '98
-- Miami Dolphins
DE Adalius Thomas (6th) - Southern Miss '00
-- Baltimore Ravens
WR Odessa Turner (3rd) - Northwestern (La.) State '86
-- N.Y. Giants

Personal Information

Birthdate: October 16, 1955
Hometown: Forrest City, Ark.
Education: 1978 - B.S. in Physical Education from Central Arkansas
Marital Status: Married to the former Charleen McCabe

Bowl Games as a Coach
1982 Bluebonnet
1987 Hall of Fame
1990 Independence
1997 Liberty
2000 Las Vegas
2002 Cotton


"If they get to know him, they're going to love him. They're going to love his system and they're going to love him. His system very, very rarely has flaws in it. And he's just a wonderful coach. They got a winner."
-Arkansas nose tackle Jermaine Brooks

"Although all coaches say their defenses are aggressive, with Thompson, it's not mere lip service."
(February 21, 2002)
"He has delivered on a reputation as an unconventional leader, a guy who will try anything at virtually any time to stop an offense."
(August 22, 2002)
"Defensive coordinator John Thompson's crew was brilliant all night, limiting the potent Dawgs to just 294 total yards and a hard-to-fathom 0-for-13 in third-down conversions. Thompson's constantly changing looks managed to keep the Dawgs and their two-headed quarterback deal of David Greene and D.J. Shockley off-stride for 60 minutes."
(November 3, 2002)
-Marty Cohen, Gator Bait

"You know his defense causes problems when you're watching the offensive line and their heads are on a swivel trying to figure out which man they're going to block. It's a really confusing defense, and it's fun to play."
(December 20, 2000)
-Curt Davis, Former Arkansas nose guard

"Thompson's neat, scholarly appearance is in sharp contrast to the chaotic defense he ran at Arkansas, which featured various blitzes and stunts such as defensive lineman standing up at the snap. It's an aggressive style which creates a lot of turnovers."
(February 15, 2002)
-Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Times-Union

"The best news in the coaching change might well be the arrival of defensive coordinator John Thompson, whose unpredictable and aggressive schemes improved defenses at Arkansas, Memphis and Southern Mississippi."
(August 19, 2002)
-ESPN. Com (Pat Forde)

" 'Magic' is the right word for Thompson because he deals in illusion -- opponents swear his defenses are amazingly complex but his players insist the system is easy to learn. The varying fronts and unsound looks are all part of a sound plan."
(Preseason 2002)
-Gator Bait Preseason Yearbook

"He's a heck of a coach, man, a heck of coach. See the job we did last year and the year before that with our defense. He knows how to get motivated. Florida is a big-time school and I think what they were looking for was a big-time motivator, someone who can come in and get the job done. And they got it in Coach Thompson."
(August 20, 2002)
-Eddie Jackson, Arkansas Cornerback

"Everyone has calmed down since the beginning of the season. He's kind of a mentor. He wants to know our opinions. I really like working with him."
(October 2, 2002)
"Coach Thompson's familiar with a lot of offenses. He's been around a while. He'll get us ready for what we have to do."
(October 2, 2002)
-Clint Mitchell, UF Defensive Lineman

"He's laid back, but he'll get on you. He will get on you."
(October 2, 2002)
-Marcus Oquendo-Johnson, UF Defensive Lineman

"One of Zook's most important hires was defensive coordinator John Thompson, who had built one of the Southeastern Conference's best defenses at Arkansas. He is the perfect mix of brainiac and maniac. He's the mad scientist who tweaks and twists the defense until it takes shape."
(September 27, 2002)
-Michael Smith, The KY Courier-Journal

"He's a very smart coach and he knows how to put his playmakers in position to make plays. His defense is unconventional."
(July 10, 2002)
"You'll see a big improvement in the Gators' defense this year. I'll promise you that."
(July 10, 2002)
-Patrick Surtain, Dolphins cornerback who played for Thompson at Southern Miss

"Zook gave SEC offensive coordinators an immediate headache when he hired John Thompson away from Arkansas to be his defensive coordinator. Two words commonly used to describe Thompson's scheme are "unorthodox" and "unpredictable." Having been at Southern Miss, Memphis and Arkansas, he also has a pretty good book on most SEC offenses."
(August 5, 2002)
-Sporting News (Mike Strange)

"Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer once described a Thompson defense as 'a bucket full of minnows,' meaning frenetic, unpredictable movement. You might see eight men rushing on first down or no one rushing. Blitzes come from all angles. A Thompson defense takes risks for the sake of being disruptive and creating negative yardage plays. It's a scheme that requires playmakers, which Florida generally has. All-SEC FS Todd Johnson admitted to 'a little disbelief' when the Gators watched Thompson's schemes on tape."
(August 5, 2002)
-Sporting News (Mike Strange)

"Really, [Arkansas] is where I always thought I was going to be - until Ron called. I knew what I was going to do and what I should do, but it was the hardest thing that I had ever done. But I say that and I don't look back…This is Florida. If you want to be the best at your profession, you go to the best."
(July 10, 2002)
"I'm thrilled, excited, glad to be here -- what a place. When you step into this place, from the minute you walk in, you see how the people are, what a special place this is. It's about tradition and the people -- I'm humbled and honored to be here."
(February 21, 2002)
-John Thompson, Florida defensive coordinator

"John Thompson knew what his answer would be even before being asked. Although he had built one of the best defenses in the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas, and the Razorbacks were matching every offer, he knew he had to be a Gator."
(February 15, 2002)
-Seth Traub, The Alligator

"The thing I like about John is that he starts blitzing when he steps off the bus."
(August 1, 2002)
"When I called John, I was calling to talk to him about another coach. The more and more we talked, the more I sensed this guy's personality is a lot like mine. He wants the players to play fast. He wants them to play wide-open. He wants them to have fun and play with emotion."
(August 1, 2002)
-Ron Zook

"Some of the things he did I didn't think were very sound at first, but it always seemed to work. He's a student of the game. I learned to let him alone and let him do his thing and not argue with him. He has been successful everywhere he has gone. I wouldn't be surprised to see him become a head coach some day. He does his homework and turns over every stone. I think the world of John Thompson."
(September 18, 2002)
-Joe Raymond Peace, Thompson's boss at Louisiana Tech

"The performance in Knoxville further solidified that Thompson's system is fundamentally sound when it is run correctly."
(September 22, 2002)
-Jill Martin, St Pete Times

"First of all the fact I call him JT, he's a coach we have a good relationship with. It's a player-coach relationship. His defense is an attack defense, it's a defense that allows us to use our ability. We're all different. Some of us are more run stoppers some of us are more pass rushers and he sets the defense up so that we have a lot of freedom and we can use our ability to have a good defense."
(October 8, 2002)
- Arpedge Rolle, UF Defensive Lineman

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