Most important players for the Aztecs in 2021: Trenton Thompson

Aztecs

Credit: EVT Sports

Credit: EVT Sports

Game Week has arrived! Saturday, San Diego State takes the field against New Mexico State.

It will be the first game the Aztecs have played under normal circumstances since their 48-11 drubbing of Central Michigan in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl.

A lot has changed since that game. Rocky Long retired. Brady Hoke was hired. There are new offensive and defensive coordinators. And, we learned more about the character of the young men in the program as they played an entire 2020 season.

To mark the five days until Week 1 of the season, the East Village Times will countdown the five most important players to the success of the Aztecs this season. While some of the more obvious players might make the list, the countdown is intended to highlight the players who, if they play well, will be the difference in SDSU being a contender for the 22nd title in school history.

Can SDSU replace three starters in the secondary?

Having already gone on record saying cornerback Tayler Hawkins has the biggest shoes to fill in the senior class, Trenton Thompson comes into focus as the player most responsible for picking up the slack left by the departures of Tariq Thompson and Dwayne Johnson Jr. While coaches have raved about starting Aztec safety Patrick McMorris’ play all year, expecting McMorris to read the defense, get everyone lined up properly, and be a coach on the field is too high of a bar for a first-time starter.

Thompson will be the player in the center of the field who must organize a secondary breaking in three new starters. He has depended on Tariq Thompson, who is as instinctual of a player as there is, for help throughout his career. With that safety net gone, Thompson is the man who needs to have the plans mastered for the secondary.

Credit: EVT Sports

Fortunately for the Aztecs, Thompson appears up to the task. He has played 43 games during his career and has been a fixture in the starting unit since his sophomore year in 2018. Thompson also benefits from a second season as part of the senior leaders on the team. Getting the secondary lined up properly is a small task compared to leading the team through Covid last year. Thompson’s leadership role was recognized Saturday when players elected him one of the five Team Captains for the season. 

Best known for his jarring, albeit illegal, hit that essentially sealed the win over Arizona State in 2018, his return for a touchdown with 15 seconds left in the half against Air Force in 2018, and his blocked punts against UNLV in 2019 and 2020, Thompson is going to be counted on to cover wide receivers in the slot more so than in previous seasons. In years past, Tariq Thompson lined up with the third receiver no matter the side the receiver lined up, but in the team’s two scrimmages this year, Thompson and converted cornerback Cedarious Barfield filled that role equally.

If the Aztecs are going to be more than just competitive in all their games, they will need a huge year from #18. With five days left until the start of the season, Trenton Thompson is number five on our list of most important players for 2021.

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Paul Garrison
My earliest sport's memory involve tailgating at the Murph, running down the circular exit ramps, and seeing the Padres, Chargers and Aztecs play. As a second generation Aztec, I am passionate about all things SDSU. Other interests include raising my four children, being a great husband and teaching high school.

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