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NBC’s dramedy Good Girls has been carefully unspooling the gender identity of 11-year-old Sadie (played by Isaiah Stannard, an out trans boy), the 11-year-old child of Mae Whitman’s character Annie, and last night’s episode was a big one.
After Annie, who is expecting, revealed her baby’s gender to Sadie (“Yay, it’s a boy”), Sadie paused and replied, “Mom …. so am I.”
Check out the scene to see Annie’s beautiful reaction.
Variety reported on the storyline last June: ‘“Good Girls” creator Jenna Bans had an eye-opening experience when casting her NBC dramedy. She had originally written Sadie, the tweenage daughter of Mae Whitman’s Annie, as a boy named Ben. When her casting director asked if she’d be interested in seeing a girl for the part of a boy, she was intrigued and hired Izzy Stannard — a young actor who, at the time, seemed to identify with the female gender assigned to him at birth. By the time filming began, Stannard made it clear that he identified as a boy and was using he/him pronouns.’
Said Bans to the publication: “We realized we had a really great opportunity to tell a story about a character who was gender non-conforming, but at the same time not necessarily have that be what leads the story. What’s most important to the character and the story we’re telling between Sadie and Annie is really about the bond between Sadie and her mom. We liked the idea that the character of Sadie was exploring her gender [expression] in the show, but I think what we responded to more was that the Mae Whitman character just couldn’t care less.’
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In Grand Cayman, Redefining the Pinnacle of Caribbean Real Estate dlvr.it/R3JWjh
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В Западной Вирджинии хотят возродить леса красной ели dlvr.it/R3JWRp
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В Западной Вирджинии хотят возродить леса красной ели dlvr.it/R3JWHG
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Mueller report: 5 things to know about Russian interference in U.S. elections dlvr.it/R3JW4V
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The Sparks agreed to trade guard Odyssey Sims, one of Minnesota’s most polarizing rivals, to the Lynx on Monday. L.A. received guard Alexis Jones in return.
The Minnesota Lynx are putting rivalry aside in the name of success. The Lynx have agreed to trade third-year guard Alexis Jones to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Odyssey Sims, the teams announced on Monday.
Sims will, in part, take the place of Lynx point guard legend Lindsay Whalen, who retired last season. The two had a history of beef in one of the WNBA’s biggest rivalries over the past three years, and it’ll take some adjusting for fans in Minnesota to cheer her on.
The Lynx are still in win-now mode despite losing Whalen to retirement and superstar Maya Moore for the season for personal reasons. Sims, the 2014 No. 2 overall pick, will assume a big scoring and play-making role in Minnesota in their absence, and it appears she’ll be a part of the team’s long-term vision. Sims, a restricted free agent in February, signed a three-year max contract with the Phoenix Mercury which the Sparks matched, according to WNBA Insidr’s Rachel Galligan.
The Minnesota Lynx reigned over the WNBA for most of the decade, winning four of the last eight WNBA championships. In 2016 and 2017, the Los Angeles Sparks were far and away the team’s best competition. It resulted in the sides trading titles in decisive Game 5 wins.
Naturally, the intensity between the two best teams and their point guards escalated as time went on, but Sims and Whalen took it ten steps further. Scraps between the point guards eventually amounted to Whalen tossing Sims to the ground in the opening minutes Game 4 of the 2017 Finals. She was called for a flagrant 1 foul.
That was it for the buzzer-beaters, but the beef…
THIS IS WHERE THE BEEF TRULY REHEATS.
Lindsay Whalen is gonna be a HOFer. She’s known for being tough as hell.
That’s why she had no trouble flagrant fouling Odyssey Sims, her nemesis-to be. pic.twitter.com/J4IF5sb2Tr
— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) August 21, 2018
If you thought it was unintentional, you’d be mistaken. After the game, Whalen said, “I was sending a message to the whole team — and to everyone — that we’re here tonight. “We will not go down without a fight.” Whalen was hit with a $200 fine from the league for the foul, but she took it as a badge of honor. Head coach Cheryl Reeve later told the New York Times, “[Whalen] said it was the best $200 she ever spent.”
That beef was met again in the 2018 regular season opener between the Lynx and Sparks. After a timeout was called, the two went face-to-face and shoved each other out of the way, proving they still weren’t over it.
GUESS WHO BEEFED when these teams met earlier this season?
Yup, Sims and Whalen. pic.twitter.com/oAzn0Xak5S
— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) August 21, 2018
After the Sparks won on a buzzer-beater from Chelsea Gray, Sims took a shot at Whalen, telling The Athletic, “[Whalen] was on the bench for a little while, honestly, didn’t even know if she was still on the team at one point.”
Beef aside, the Lynx moved a backup point guard for a starter, which makes a lot of sense given the team’s construction. Without Moore, the team’s leading scorer, Minnesota needs shot-makers to replace what she gave them. Sims could be a big piece of that puzzle.
The Lynx bought low on Sims, whose value dropped this season after she fell further in L.A.’s depth chart behind All-Star Chelsea Gray. In 24 minutes per game, she scored a career-low eight points per game on 39 percent shooting with three assists. In two playoff games, she only saw 29 minutes total. Stacked behind Gray and two former MVPs, Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, Sims wasn’t in the best position to succeed.
There’s reason to believe in a Lynx system that’ll see the ball in her hands more, she’ll have a much bigger impact on the game. In her rookie season in 2014, she averaged 17 points on 41 percent shooting with four assists per game.
Moving a former No. 2 pick for a backup in Jones makes more sense that it appears for L.A. Just like the Lynx, the Sparks believe they can win it all this season. Parker and Ogwumike are back, as are Jantel Lavender and defensive stalwart Alana Beard. Gray is expected to re-sign before the season starts next month, and L.A. will also add No. 7 pick Kalani Brown. What the Sparks are still missing is outside shooting, though, and that’s something Jones can do better than Sims.
In two seasons, Jones is shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc in the WNBA. It’s on a small sample size, as she’s taken just 79 attempts, but she was an elite shooter in college. She shot 41 percent from deep in each of her last two seasons at Baylor.
Jones is only likely to play a small role for the Sparks, but she’ll provide the three-point shooting they need from a backup guard — and save some salary cap space in the long-term (Jones is still on a rookie-scale contract.)
If Minnesota fans can find a way to cheer on their rival, this trade looks to be a win-win on both sides.
After an opening episode that served to reorient viewers to the major players for Game of Thrones‘ final season, our second installment was a rich, textured example of excellent storytelling that allowed viewers to soak up emotional moments with character they’ve grown to love.
And characters they’ll likely have to say goodbye to soon.
Yes, ahead of next week’s sure-to-be-spectacular Battle of Winterfell, all around the North, reunions and respect were shared among the major players. Instead of the breakneck trips around Westeros we’re used to, the story stayed put in Winterfell, and the result was one of the most understated and ultimately successful episodes of the series.
Let’s dig in.
Meanwhile, in Winterfell …
You are about to enter the courtroom of Queen Daenerys Targaryen. The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final. This is her courtroom. This is Judge Dany.
Jaime Lannister is on trial for being, well, a jerk. Dany has reason enough want to give Jaime the ol’ Ned Stark haircut for killing her father, the Mad King. Then we had seasons and seasons of Jaime running afoul of the Starks, starting with shoving lil’ Bran out the window.
Jaime being a jerk seems to be the one thing Sansa and Dany agree on, even with Bran keeping mum about the whole window shoving thing. (The Three-Eyed Raven felt more like a different Raven when he threw some subtle shade at Jaime, calling back to the words Lannister said before giving him the shove: “the things we do for love.”)
Tyrion tries his best to advocate for his brother, but having already fallen for Cersei’s lie about sending troops to help fight the Night King, he doesn’t have a ton of credibility with the council. It’ not until Brienne steps up that the vibe shifts. She fully vouches for Jaime, which is enough to convince Sansa to spare him. Dany reluctantly follows suit.
Despite the pardon, Dany isn’t feeling nearly as generous toward Tyrion. He had assured her that Cersei would send her soldiers, which makes him either a traitor or a fool. Either way, Dany warns him that she may need a new Hand soon. Jorah will later try to convince Dany to trust Tyrion, which is true, but also a little weird coming from Jorah, a guy who would be a shoe in for the next Hand …
Speaking of people who would make a great Hand to Daenerys … Sansa. Dany does her best to butter up Sansa, trying to make the peace. There’s even some light hand holding. Sansa concedes she should have thanked Daenerys for coming to their aide, and Dany reveals her love for Jon Snow is what diverted her attention to the Iron Throne, so it’s not Jon Sansa should worry about being manipulated, it’s her. The cute little moment of girl talk turns sour once Sansa flatly asks Daenerys for her plans for the North once the war is over. They’ve fought too hard to bend the knee once again.
Before they can hash it out, they’re interrupted by Theon who has returned to fight for Winterfell. It’s a wonderful gesture, welcomed by Sansa with a powerful hug … and it all but guarantees Theon doesn’t make it out of Winterfell alive. (Also, Missandei and Grey Worm’s little fantasy about the future feels like a surefire way to ensure one or both won’t survive the upcoming battle.)
Elsewhere, Jaime wonders why Bran wasn’t so chatty about the whole pushy-pushy window incident, but Bran isn’t “Bran” anymore, and they’ll need him when the Night King comes.
They’re going to need all the help they can get. One of my favorite GoT tropes is when they gather around a map to strategize. This time, they’ve got a supernatural enemy with an army that does not stop fighting. Bran volunteers to essentially serve as bait by the ol’ Weirwood tree. Bran claims the Night King is after him because he wants “endless night” and the Three-Eyed Raven holds all the memories.
Hmmm … something isn’t right here. My personal feeling is that Bran is withholding some crucial pieces of information. This show has crafted so many villains with complex motivations and histories. You’re telling me the biggest big bad is one of those villains that just wants to kill everyone? Seems too straightforward. My theory is that Bran has a personal connection to the Night King. I feel like Bran has been warging around for a long time, meddling in history. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence Bran shares a name with BRANdon the Builder who created the wall.) Perhaps in trying to stop the Night King, Bran had a hand in creating him. Just like how Jaime’s push put Bran on the path he’s on now, maybe Bran put the Night King on the path he’s on now.
Then it’s time for everyone to spend their last few moments prepping for the Night King’s arrival. Most the women, children, elderly are going to ride out the night in the crypt, which we’re told repeatedly is the “safest place in Winterfell.” Now, hold up. The safest place to hide from the guy who can reanimate the dead is in the part of the fortress that’s full up of dead people? Cool cool cool.
Arya gets her custom weapon, and, being this could be her last night alive, decides to cash in her V-card with Gendry. First off, get it, gurl, Gentry’s a snacc. Second, as weird it is to see Arya, a character we’ve known since she was wee lil’ lady, go to the Bone Zone, it’s an important moment. All this time, she’s been tempering her humanity and hardening her heart. Here she is being vulnerable and acting like, well, a teenager.
One of my favorite scenes of all time takes place by the fire. It’s Tyrion drinking with Davos, soon to be joined by Jaime, Brienne, Podrick, Davos and Tormund. Tyrion wonders if maybe, I don’t know, what if they SURVIVE? That would be a novel idea. Tormund shares his origin story as “Giantsbane,” which involves slaying a giant and then suckling at the teet of his wife. (Giant’s milk: It does a body good.) Tyrion accidentally calls Brienne “Ser,” a title reserved for knights. She corrects him that only a man can be a knight. Except! Turns out! Any knight can make someone else a knight.
And with that, Jaime makes Brienne a knight, and it is one of the most joyful, beautiful moments in the entire series.
Down in the totally safe crypt, Jon shares his little 23andMe result with Daenerys, and she is not thrilled to hear the news. She seems less concerned with how it impacts their sexytimes (it’s not like incest is unheard of in these parts), but she is very upset that there might be another Targaryen with a more valid claim to the throne. Before they can rock-paper-scissor for the Iron Throne, the battle horns blow signaling the Night King’s arrival.
Next week is the Battle of Winterfell, and it will be EPIC. It’s the biggest production the show has ever attempted, and it rivals the greatest battle scenes in any television or film production. It was shot over 11 weeks. It’s going to be unforgettable.
With all these major players in place, it’s time for a little wagering. I’m going to put my list of characters I think will live, won’t live and undecided below. Leave yours in the comments.
Jon Snow (his heroic sacrifice will come later)
Sansa (my pick to survive the whole series)
Jaime (his story must end with Cersei)
The Hound (he has to face the Mountain at some point … unless it’s a reanimated zombie v. zombie Clegane Bowl)
Brienne (Rest in power, Ser Brienne)
Could go either way:
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The Trump Investigations Blog by Michael Novakhov – Review Of News And Opinions: 3:53 PM 4/22/2019 – Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsL… trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/04/353-pm…
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GIULIANI. “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”
$5 MILLION. Amount taken in from Republicans by Trump’s properties and hotels since 2017: ‘According to public disclosures highlighted by Quartz and Center for Responsive Politics, pro-Trump super PACs, the Republican National Committee and the president’s own reelection committee have spent at least $4.7 million on Trump owned hotels, golf courses and restaurants since January 2017, when the president was inaugurated. About $100,000 of that has been spent in 2019.’
KIM KARDASHIAN. I would never pay off anyone to get my kids into school: ““If they couldn’t get into a school, I would never want to use privilege to try to force them into a situation that they wouldn’t thrive in anyway.”
JONI ERNST. Iowa Republican calls Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice part of his “brash demeanor.”
MALE MODEL MONDAY. Christian Hogue, Harry Goodwins (below), Bobby Roche, Franky Cammarata and more.
$640 BILLION. Elizabeth Warren’s student loan debt forgiveness plan: ‘The Massachusetts senator says the proposal unveiled Monday would eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans, canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000.
MEDELLIN. Madonna teases music video with Maluma.
ROSSIYA 1. Russian State tv is airing Sean Hannity clips bashing the Mueller Report. ‘In its own editorializing, Rossiya 1 described the report as “bestseller about the absence of collusion between Trump and Russia,” and blamed the political press and U.S. intelligence agencies for “hounding Trump” over the allegations, according to a translation by journalist and Daily Beast contributor Julia Davis.’
UKRAINE. Man who played president in TV sitcom wins presidency: ‘Zelenskiy plays a fictional state leader on a television sitcom. His bid to lead the country of 45 million people was first dismissed as a joke, but his vague promises to reform the country were enough to win over voters fed up with the country’s endemic corruption, moribund economy, and ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists.’
RHODE ISLAND. Bill would extend state benefits to gay veterans: ‘The bill (H 5443) would permit former members of the armed forces who received less than honorable discharges based solely on sexual orientation to receive earned state veterans’ benefits, including veterans’ housing and employment preferences, as if their discharge had been characterized as honorable.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are 40.
METHODISTS. A breakup over LGBTQ policies? “Some churches have raised rainbow flags in a show of LGBT solidarity. Some pastors have vowed to defy the strict rules and continue to allow gay weddings in Methodist churches. Churches are withholding dues payments to the main office in protest, and the UMC’s receipts were down 20 percent in March, according to financial reports posted online.”
WASHINGTON D.C. Local enthusiast working to revive hockey league.
TRAILER OF THE DAY. Knock Down the House. “Follow the stories of four inspiring women who took on history in the 2018 midterm election.”
REUNION OF THE DAY. The Saved By The Bell cast.
MONDAY MANCAVE. Sergio Morales.
Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz isn’t saying Murray WILL drop. But if he does, this is how things could play out.
It’s NFL Draft WEEEEEEEK! Let’s go! All the speculation, the rumors, the scouting reports, mock drafts, and hype is about to pay off with the first round on Thursday, followed by rounds two and three on Friday, and finishing with the final four rounds on Saturday.
As usual with the draft nearing, people start to doubt what they’ve known for a while.
I was one of the first in the media to firmly say the Cardinals would draft Kyler Murray. I tweeted about it and wrote about it as well. Murray just makes too much sense for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, and if you hire the coach, you get him the quarterback he wants.
While Murray is still the huge odds-on favorite to be taken first overall, there are more mock drafts and rumors this week that DON’T have the Cardinals taking Murray. If the Cardinals shock everyone and skip on Murray, there’s a strong chance Murray drops out of the top 10 and maybe isn’t even the first quarterback taken!
Let’s explore how that happens:
The Cardinals pass on Murray and draft one of the top two defensive players on the board. Bosa is the most polished defensive end prospect in the draft and Williams, IMO, is the best defensive player on the board. It’s rare to find a defensive tackle with polished pass-rush moves like Williams has.
2. The San Francisco 49ers could draft Bosa or Williams.
The Niners clearly don’t need a quarterback and will gladly take whoever the Cardinals pass on. Whichever player they add will take away double-teams from either Dee Ford or DeForest Buckner. You can’t double all three pass rushers.
3. The New York Jets will target a defensive player or trade down.
Ditto on the “no quarterback need” for the Jets. Over the last week, more mock drafts have the Jets taking defensive tackle Ed Oliver, even ahead of Williams (if Murray goes No. 1 and Bosa goes No. 2). No matter what the Jets do, a trade down is possible.
4. The Oakland Raiders PROBABLY won’t draft a quarterback.
This is where things get interesting. It’s been hard to judge, despite the praise from Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden, if the Raiders are all-in on Derek Carr. He didn’t play well last season and Gruden didn’t draft him. However, with his high salary and the additions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, the weapons are there for Carr to improve. Gruden doesn’t seem like the patient type, nor does Brown, so drafting Murray doesn’t feel right for the Raiders.
Lastly, they’d need to find a trade partner for Carr — otherwise you’re paying too much for a backup quarterback.
Bruce Arians loves “pocket” quarterbacks and Murray isn’t like any of the quarterbacks Arians has worked with before. The guy on the roster now, Winston, is the type of quarterback Arians has worked well with, and they will ride with Winston for at least this season.
6. The New York Giants might draft a quarterback, but Murray doesn’t fit their style.
The Giants are an old-school organization and stick to their scouting principles and molds for players. Murray doesn’t fit the mold. He’s not being drafted by the Giants. If the Giants do take a quarterback, it seems as though it might be Duke’s Daniel Jones, who reminds some of the Manning brothers.
They just signed Foles to a big contract, plus they desperately need help at offensive line. They will have their choice of linemen at this spot. I’d expect Florida’s Jawaan Taylor or Washington State’s Andre Dillard here.
8. The Detroit Lions need weapons for their quarterback, not a new quarterback.
It’s not happening with the Lions either. They are firmly committed to Matthew Stafford and QB isn’t a need. They need a tight end and could draft the top player at that position at No. 8.
9. The Buffalo Bills need to surround their young quarterback with talent.
10. The Denver Broncos only draft tall QBs (sorry, Kyler).
John Elway has professed his love for tall quarterbacks who can hand the ball off and well, Murray isn’t tall. I can’t see this match being made. I have to think that if the Broncos go quarterback, it’s Drew Lock.
11. The Cincinnati Bengals make sense for Murray if they aren’t committed to Andy Dalton.
This could be the first spot for Murray. The Bengals have a brand new staff, and I’m not sure anyone knows what they are thinking. If they aren’t sold on Andy Dalton, they could start over with Murray.
13. The Miami Dolphins are a possibility for Murray — unless they wait for next year.
This seems like a match. The Dolphins have Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Fitzmagic isn’t a long-term solution at quarterback. Could Murray be the fit? Possibly. Or the Dolphins are going to attempt to stink it up this season for their shot at one of the quarterbacks in the next draft class.
14. The Atlanta Falcons are a no.
Not gonna happen.
15. Washington is another likely spot for Murray, if he’s still available.
Just like the Dolphins, this could be a fit for Murray. Washington doesn’t have an answer at quarterback, with Alex Smith’s awful injury last season.
Just wild, right? The quarterback most consider to be the best in this class could fall out of the top 10, simply because of fit. This would turn a draft that feels “blah” into an exciting journey!
Donovan Mitchell needs offensive help in the worst way for Utah to take the next step.
The Houston Rockets were an absolute mess on the road in Game 3 against the Utah Jazz and it didn’t matter. James Harden played one of the worst games of his career, starting 0-of-15 from the field before dunking his first field goal halfway through the fourth quarter. The team shot a putrid 38 percent from the field, and even left Donovan Mitchell wide open in the final seconds for a potential game-tying three.
It didn’t matter. Houston took a 3-0 lead, and can finish off the series for good on Monday. When the Rockets do, it’ll force the Jazz to address some tough questions about its roster.
The Jazz’s three-point Game 3 loss despite virtually everything going in their favor underscores the reality of what we already knew, but thought could change: their offense isn’t good enough. The Jazz did well to land the No. 5 seed and win 50 games, but will suffer a second straight lopsided series defeat to the Rockets due to their inability to score against a locked-in playoff defense. Until the 22-year-old Mitchell is paired with another alpha, they’ll remain in this purgatory.
Had Gordon Hayward made a different decision in July of 2017, we might look at the Jazz differently. His production has been honorably filled by Utah’s long-armed youth, but the sad irony is that Hayward’s exactly the kind of player Mitchell needs as a running mate.
But that’s in the past. The Jazz need to find Hayward’s successor to compete among the West’s elite.
Utah has an excellent foundation. Rudy Gobert is a defensive stud who’s earned every penny of the max contract the Jazz are paying him. The seven-foot center is just 26 years old, and will be in Utah until at least 2020. Joe Ingles is a quality long-term piece as well, as a solid forward on a team-friendly deal. The Jazz have also made some under-the-radar moves, such as finding undrafted second-year wing Royce O’Neale and trading for Jae Crowder.
There are no problems defensively: the Jazz posted the league’s stingiest unit in back-to-back years, allowing just 105.94 points per 100 possessions this year.
The Jazz rely too heavily on Mitchell to play hero-ball, an unhealthy tactic for any team without James Harden or Stephen Curry. Mitchell took an average of 19.9 shots a game this year, nearly twice as many as the next-most prolific shooter, Ricky Rubio.
The Jazz are missing another wing player that can create offense, and it’s shown in this opening round series against Houston, much like it did in the same matchup last season.
The Jazz have decisions to make in the offseason. Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, and Raul Neto all have non-guaranteed contracts that could provide Utah flexibility if it thinks it can land another talent. The team could have another void to fill if Ricky Rubio, an unrestricted free agent, chooses to sign elsewhere, too.
The Jazz can and should take home run swings in free agency. Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson are three of the top names who’d make sense with the roster in its current construction, and all three would give Utah a legitimate chance at a deeper postseason run. If and when those fail, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, and Bojan Bogdanovic are on the market as well.
But this playoff disappointment should underscore that the status quo isn’t good enough. Utah needs offensive talent to take the next step in today’s sharp-shooting, hyper-efficient scoring world, and can’t opt to let Mitchell shoot his way into oblivion for another playoff series.
The talent is there, the coach is in place, and their best scorer hasn’t come close to his ceiling yet. The Jazz are just just missing one final link to restore their playoff relevancy.
The Utah State one-year wonder could be an NFL Draft steal thanks to his strength and explosiveness.
Don’t call Darwin Thompson a small running back.
A 5’8, he’s not one of the taller offensive prospects who will hear their names called at the 2019 NFL Draft, but lumping him in with situational backs like Tarik Cohen and Darren Sproles sells him, well, short.
“I’m not gonna grow anymore,” Thompson told me over the phone one week before the draft. “I’m 23 years old. 5’8 is what you’re gonna get out of me, but when I come to your team, I will carve out my role to be a one-, two-, three-down back. I’ll initially start off as a three-down back — that’s what a lot of people see me as — but Ray Rice stood 5’8, 199 [pounds] coming out of college. Jerick McKinnon is 5’8, 5’9.
“There’s a lot of great backs who stand 5’8 who can play all three downs.”
Thompson, who garnered zero Division I scholarship offers out of high school, took some winding backroads to the NFL’s doorstep, but he knows he can be the next one on that list.
He spent two years building his game at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M before earning a scholarship offer to Utah State. He made the most of his lone year in the FBS, helping power the Aggies to an 11-win campaign last fall — only the second in school history. Thompson turned in a 1,044-yard, 14-touchdown season on just 153 carries, crashing through unprepared defenses with a blend of speed and power that erased any presumptions that came with his stature.
His advanced stats profile was even better, painting him as one of the most successful draft-eligible backs out there. And now, despite a limited college football resume, he’s ready to be one team’s mid-round steal at the 2019 NFL Draft.
Thompson doesn’t look like a third-down specialist on tape, and the Aggies didn’t treat him like one. At 200 pounds and with the weight room bonafides that approach (and maybe exceed) Saquon Barkley’s, he’s got the power to blast his own tunnels through the line of scrimmage.
Unbelievable lift by @DTRAINN5 today…dude is 195 lbs. and handled 500 lbs. with ease on the Front Squat today…no belt or support of any kind and a FULL SQUAT #frontsquat #fullsquat #depth #freak pic.twitter.com/4FPDUzL3NN
— David Scholz (@coachscholz) July 20, 2018
(That tweet is from 10 months ago, and he’s only gotten stronger since.)
While it’s easy to typecast him as a Cohen or Dave Meggett-style situational weapon, Thompson’s aggressive style and power at the line of scrimmage showcase a player who can turn a sliver of opportunity into a tsunami of big gains.
Thompson’s approach with the ball is simple. He’s here to look for holes and create the angles that push would-be tacklers slightly off his line. Then once he’s unbalanced a linebacker or defensive lineman’s center mass, he runs right the hell through them.
That made Thompson Utah State’s top option on both outside and inside zone runs. When Utah State faced goal-line situations in its biggest non-conference game of the year against Michigan State, it was Thompson, playing in his first FBS game, who got the call in two of the team’s plays from inside the two-yard line. He scored on both carries.
While he was useful in short-yardage situations, he absolutely thrived when his Utah State blockers cleared enough room for him to roast linebackers at the second level.
“It’s two things: vision and weight room,” Thompson said about his ability to turn three-yard gains into first downs. “The foundation really starts in the weight room for me. I’m not tall, so I have to make up for the height somewhere. That’s in the weight room.
“Once I hit the second level I know it’s go time. I should be able to beat any safety’s angles if I’m running fast enough. They’re going to throw an arm out there and I’m gonna run right through that arm.”
“My pops always taught me ‘never let an arm tackle bring you down, never let the first guy bring you down.’ That’s my intention when I run the ball.”
Thompson gashed defenses for 6.8 yards per carry in his lone season in the Mountain West, but he was even more dangerous as a screen pass safety valve who ran through opposing secondaries, especially as he added to his FBS resume. Over the final half of the season, he averaged more than 22 yards per catch.
As SB Nation’s Bill Connelly wrote while breaking down this year’s crop of running backs, Thompson’s receiving prowess was the cherry on top of a stacked sundae of NFL-caliber skills.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in barely 150 carries. He rushed more than 20 times per game just once but had seven games with 90-plus yards all the same. His 50.3 percent success rate was fifth among the prospects we’re tracking here.
… his receiving numbers were also among the class’s best, too. After a slow start (9 yards per catch through seven games), he caught 11 balls for 243 yards and two scores over the second half of the season.
“That goes with me being more comfortable as the season went on. When I got the ball in space, I knew exactly what I was gonna do just due to preparation throughout the week and practice,” said Thompson.
“I’m not sure if [Utah State] gameplanned around me … maybe they knew what plays to call when I was out there. I just like to make people miss in open space. That’s where my bread and butter is, open space.“
Thompson’s year in Logan pushed the Aggies to one of the best seasons in program history, but it failed to put him on the NFL’s radar. He was one of the biggest snubs from this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, depriving the event of one the nation’s top athletes.
Instead, he was left to show out at Utah State’s pro day, where he put together a 4.50- second 40-yard dash, ripped off a 39-inch vertical leap (which would have been third-best among tailbacks at the combine), a 10’6 broad jump (fifth-best), and put his blocking potential on display by cranking out 28 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds (second-best).
This was, objectively, an impressive showing. Just not for Thompson.
“Throughout my training I put up better numbers as far as my vertical, my broad jump, and my bench,” Thompson opined. “Those are the three main workouts where I put up better numbers in training. I would say the RB drills in general were my best workout of the day. My footwork and being able to show how quick I am in and out of cuts, catching the ball, running routes — that was probably the best [exercise] at my pro day.
“If I could go back and do it all over again, I would go eat my heart out. I don’t know what it was about being back in Logan, Utah, but everything was a little off. It was a good day, but not my best day.”
Those numbers, even if Thompson wasn’t thrilled with them, back up the advanced stats profile that has made the Utah State back’s name synonymous with “late-round steal” leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft.
Pro Football Focus rates him as a top-10 draft-eligible tailback and paints him as the most dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield to come out of college football this spring. Connelly’s profile is even more glowing, suggesting the Aggie “might be the most valuable back here” and dubbing him a Rudi Johnson All-Star, invoking the former Bengals back who also played only one year of FBS football after a star-building turn in junior college.
With his blend of explosive running and the ability to carve defenses up as a receiving threat, Thompson looks like a perfect fit for an NFL that trends harder and harder toward college-style spread offenses each year. That’s an assessment with which the All-Mountain West honoree agrees.
“On the couple of visits I’ve gone on, that’s my main question. What separates rookie from rookie,” Thompson told me. “And they always say the playbook. My biggest thing is growth. I want to grow my mind as a student-athlete and a student of life. Growing from JUCO to Utah State, there really wasn’t much change. I always carried my business in junior college. I wasn’t your average JUCO kid … I was always about my business as far as learning plays.
“When I got to Utah State, it was the same offense that the league is really transitioning into — the spread. I think you’ll see a lot more value in the running back position as that gives running backs more running lanes; even more in the NFL with the hashes being so close. Just imagine Barry Sanders in today’s offense. He would kill the game.
“That’s what I plan on doing.”