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August 14, 2013Cedric Thompson is ready to take a more prominent role in UCF's offense.
The redshirt sophomore will enter this season with Storm Johnson as one of the Knights' top two running backs and has been working to improve every facet of his game, including blocking and catching passes out of the backfield.
After Tuesday's practice, UCFSports.com caught up with the Miramar native to talk about his progress as well as the records he set in the weight room this past summer.
Video interview with Cedric Thompson
Today's practice was especially intense. Coach O'Leary talked about mental toughness. Is that something you've really got to push through?
"Yeah, for the first few days of camp it was more like we're going to learn the plays, we're going to focus on schemes and stuff like that. Now it's all about execution right now. It's tough out there. It's hot. Right now it's just mental focus. The physical part is already for the first 10 days or so. Now we focus on the mental part. It gets hot, the mind starts to go, you're like, 'I'm tired,' but you've got to stay focused. We're focused on our mental toughness right now."
I know there hasn't been a full scrimmage yet, and many days no tackling, but do you feel like you're making a lot of progress this camp?
"For sure, I'm making progress. Really staying in the film room and looking at certain things we do good in practice and certain things we don't do so well in practice, so I'm trying to improve on some of the things I don't do as well. We really been focused on our catching and our blocking this camp as well. So that's something I'm improving on. My catching, my blocking and my vision. I'm being more patient and hitting the holes with more authority."
Being more patient and letting the holes open is something Storm also talked about. Talk about the relationship between you two. He said when he got here you both played on the scout team while redshirting and have been close ever since.
"Storm and I are really good friends. We've been together since we got on scout team. We always compete. We competed hard on the scout team seeing who could make the biggest plays in practice. It's still the same right now. Off the field we're good friends, on the field we're good friends, but we never want to give each other anything. We always want to compete and get the most out of practice every day."
Two different styles of running there between you and Storm, that could be a pretty good duo. Are you excited about that?
"Very excited. We both bring different strengths to the table, so it's good to feed off each other. We always boost each other up. We make a good play we always clap it up and encourage each other every day. We have a good relationship, good competition between each other, but we also know we're on the same team. We've got to bring our strength to the table for our team."
Talking to other players about the weight room this summer, you always get mentioned. I take it you were one of the top guys in there?
"Yeah, I was one of the top guys. I've really been pushing this summer to get stronger, get faster. I have some records right now. I got the power clean record for running backs, 375. Storm and I have tied that. I have the bench. I tied the all-time bench record for running backs which is 445. I also was in the top five in pro bench with 32 reps. I had 37, but they took off five. That's the most for running backs for UCF history as well. I made some big pushes in the summer."
You definitely look a lot bigger than when you arrived out of high school. Do you see that translating to the field?
"I think the strength that we gain off the field really converts to on the field. There are big guys out there, everybody is strong, so the harder we work off the field just converts when we get on the field. It really pays off."
How confident are you in this offense? There's experience returning everywhere, the line, talented receivers, Blake at quarterback, then you and Storm.
"We're very confident. We're so confident that we really have to focus on the little things making sure we're doing the little things right. Make sure we're not over confident. We feel like we have a very strong offense and we can really produce, but we want to make sure we're doing the right things at the right time. We're not going to get lazy. We'll stay focused in the film room. Stuff like that. We don't want to get complacent."
You played last year, but didn't really see a whole lot of action at running back. This year you'll be one of the two primary guys in a much more featured role.
"It's very exciting. It's very humbling to get an opportunity to help my team win. I played a lot of special teams last year, but this time I get to help on the offensive side of the ball and special teams as well. It's just an exciting time for me and for UCF. We're really looking forward to this opportunity we have coming up."