The gamble paid off for Auburn, as Thompson became a four-year contributor and two-year starter on the defensive line. He was also a big part of Auburn’s 23-20 victory over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome on Monday.
“I’m still soaking it in and taking it in, but that’s huge going out with 50 wins,” he says of the fifth-year seniors’ achievements. “We fought our tails off all night and gave great effort offensively and defensively. We put in that new offense in 10 days so you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach (Tony) Franklin. Coach (Will) Muschamp got us ready and we played hard. We gave up a few plays to them, but we grinded it out and came out victorious in the end.”
While Thompson’s contributions to Auburn haven’t gone unnoticed, he states that it’s been a give and take with as he walked off the field as a college football player for the final time. “I’ve formed so many friends. It taught me so many things. I can’t even tell you how many things it’s taught me. It’s been a long road, but a good road with no regrets. I love these coaches. I love all of the players and I’ll have lifelong bonds with them for sure.
“I love these guys,” he adds. “There aren’t many of us left. I think there are about 10 or 12 of us left right now from our starting signing class. It’s huge. It’s huge for us and it’s great to get 50 wins with these guys and we all love each other. We try for each other and this is what it’s all about it.”
The Auburn coaches and players had said during the week that the Chick-fil-A Bowl might come down to the battle between the AU defensive line and the Clemson offensive line. Clemson backs C.J. Spiller and James Davis combined for 184 yards on the ground, but the Auburn D-line put enough pressure on the quarterback to keep Cullen Harper limited to just 104 yards on 33 pass attempts.
“We played good, but they broke a couple on us--that one long run,” Thompson notes. “Those backs were really good for Clemson. They tried hard and they’re fast. You’ve got to give them all the credit up front, but Pat (Sims) got the player of the game so that should tell you a little bit. I got doubled all night pretty much and couldn’t make too many plays, but it was a good night. We came out on top. They didn’t get many points and that’s what it’s all about.”
Josh Thompson is carried off the field by Pat Sims after Thompson's final on-campus practice before the Tigers took a break for Christmas.
In the end, it came down to the Auburn running game as Brandon Cox, Brad Lester, Ben Tate and Kodi Burns picked up the final 16 yards as Burns’ seven-yarder gave Auburn the winning points.
“I wasn’t even watching,” Thompson notes. “I had my head down just praying really. When I heard the crowd go wild, I went wild. That’s what it’s all about--the whole team forming together, working hard and coming out victorious.”
Game Of My Life Auburn
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