Thompson's steak alive and well
Larry Thompson has caught a pass in 24 consecutive games.
Larry Thompson has caught a pass in 24 consecutive games.
There’s nothing fancy about it. Just call it “The Streak.’’

Jacksonville University senior wide receiver Larry Thompson is on a roll – actually, he has been on one since the third game of the 2009 season – and now has caught a pass in 24 consecutive games.

“The Streak.’’ Thompson isn’t flashy, he works at it. And, he doesn’t think about “The Streak’’ too often.

“I noticed it after last season when everyone said ‘do you know you have a streak going?’ I really don’t try to think about it because I don’t want to dwell on it so that’s the only thing I’m thinking about,’’ Thompson, from Tampa, Fla., said. “I just go out there and do my job.’’

His job is to catch balls (but he’s one of the top punt returners in the Pioneer Football League also) and during his adventure he has caught 63 passes for 1,067 yards (16.9 per catch) and eight touchdowns. The last time he didn’t catch one was in week two of the 2009 season, a 27-0 loss to Samford.

The low-keyed Thompson says his success comes from but a few things. His size, he’s 6-2, his hands and a “knack’’ for getting open.

“Especially when we have third and long and we need a critical first down,’’ Thompson, a marketing major, said. “I feel like I can get open and get us the yards we need to prolong the drive.’’

Wide receivers coach Ernie Mills has his own ideas on Thompson and they go deeper than having a knack for the ball.

“He has really improved since the day he got here,’’ Mills, a former National Football League wide receiver, said. “We have to keep him on the field. This year, from January on, you see a new guy. He’s a leader now, he works hard and if you watch him in practice he’s not loafing, he’s practicing hard.’’

There also are technical reasons for “The Streak’’, according to Mills.

“He has very consistent hands; his hands catch everything that comes his way,’’ Mills said. “And, he courageous. He’s a guy who goes across the middle like he’s on an (outside) route. My nickname for him is Crazy Legs because it looks like his legs are all over the place when he runs but he’s very effective. I’m glad, glad we’ve got him.’’

Senior quarterback Josh McGregor, who has been throwing to Thompson since they were freshmen, says Thompson’s an easy target.

“He’s big, tall and runs good routes,’’ McGregor, who didn’t know of “The Streak’’ until earlier this season, said. “He’s a big play maker and has the ability to score every time he touches the ball. I’m trying to get him a pass every game and it’s hard to not throw to him when he’s so open. When the ball is in the air, he’s going to get it. It’s his ball and no one else’s.’’

Since “The Streak’’ started, only five times has it been in peril as in those games Thompson caught only one pass. And earlier this year, he turned what could have been a Streak disaster into gold.

Heading into the Western Illinois game, he was one of five suspended from starting and missed the first half all because he decided to go out the Thursday night before the game which was contrary to team rules.

“Happily I only missed a half,’’ he said. “And the first pass I caught was a touchdown. I had to take responsibility for my actions, learned my lesson and it won’t happen again. No, it wasn’t worth it.’’

Not with “The Streak’’ at stake and Mills looking on.

“It’s definitely cool to have him as a coach,’’ Thompson said. “I do look up to him and he’s taught be a lot. I owe everything in college to him. He’s one of the best.’’

--Jim Nasella