Trenton Thompson’s potential return could be huge boost to Georgia’s 2018 defense

Trenton Thompson
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Based on what he posted to his Instagram account over the weekend, Georgia junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson appears to be planning to return for his senior season.

Thompson was the top prospect nationally in the 2015 recruiting class and he played well in 2016, especially late in the season. That led to speculation that he would turn pro following the season. But a spring injury and a withdrawal from classes followed by an inconsistent season evidently has led to him perhaps staying for his senior season.

Thompson has 33 tackles and three tackles for loss this season heading into the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma (the odds by SBG and others have Georgia favored by 1.5 points). It is a far cry from the 56 tackles and five sacks he totaled in 2016.

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Georgia gained momentum heading into the 2017 season when Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel decided to stay for their seniors seasons. Thompson could provide a sliver of the same momentum for 2018.

If Thompson follows through on that hashtag of “SeniorSoon,” the Bulldogs would have a proven front-seven playmaker for the 2018 season. That could help counteract the losses of senior outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter and the almost-certain early departure of inside linebacker Roquan Smith.

If Thompson returns, that means senior tackle John Atkins would be the only lineman that Georgia loses. It also would mean Georgia would have one of the most experienced defensive lines in the SEC next season, with almost all the key players juniors and seniors.

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In that scenario, Georgia’s line should be the strongest defensive unit on the team. The Bulldogs likely will lose three of their four starting linebackers as well as three starters in the secondary (safety Dominick Sanders, cornerback Malkom Parrish and nickelback Aaron Davis).

In addition to Smith, the Bulldogs could lose junior linebacker Natrez Patrick; backup inside ‘backer Reggie Carter is a senior. That means junior Juwan Taylor and true freshmen Monty Rice and Nate McBride will be asked to do more next season.

Junior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker is expected to return, which would help lessen the blow of losing Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter. While he’s a reserve, Walker leads the Bulldogs with 11.5 tackles for loss (Bellamy and Carter have combined for 13) and also has 4.5 sacks.

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(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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