Florida State is reeling from the loss of senior star running back Chris Thompson, who overcame a broken back last year only to be suffer a torn ACL in his left knee Saturday, unceremoniously ending his college football career.
Thompson had totaled 687 yards rushing through seven games, and his 7.55 yards-per-carry average was third among ACC running backs.
Thompson was Florida State’s leading rusher this season and was on pace to become the first 1,000-yard back since 1996 for the Seminoles (No. 12 BCS, No. 11 Associated Press).
Beyond that, he was a hard-working player that represented the school in a strong way.
“He’s what’s right about college football,” coach Jimbo Fisher said, “but this game takes no prisoners.”
Thompson injured his knee after making a leaping catch along the sideline early in the second quarter of Saturday’s win over Miami. He came down awkwardly on his left knee and needed to be helped off the field. He was responsible for 94 of Florida State’s 112 yards at the time.
The injury is particularly disheartening for Thompson, who broke his back in a loss to Wake Forest last year and missed the final eight games of the season. He worked through more than nine months of rehab and emerged this season as the team’s top rusher.
“It’s a very big blow to us because of what he is to our team,” Fisher said. “But we’ve got two very good guys behind him.”
With Thompson out, Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC) will turn to a tandem of sophomores in Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr.
Freeman was last year’s leading rusher, but he had largely been ignored for the bulk of the ACC schedule this season before emerging in the second half of a win over Boston College two weeks ago. Wilder was a prized recruit two years ago who did little as a freshman in 2011 and ran into off-field problems this offseason. He has emerged this season as one of the ACC’s top power backs, however, and he ranks third in the conference with seven rushing touchdowns.
Thompson entered last week’s game against Miami needing to average just 60 yards per game to crack the 1,000-yard barrier, a feat that has eluded Florida State running backs for 16 years — the longest stretch in the nation.
Thompson had been an integral part of Florida State’s offense in both the running and passing games. In addition to leading the Seminoles in rushing, he was also third on the team with 21 receptions for 935 yards.