By (Matthew Speakman)

NEW ORLEANS- Alabama safety Deionte Thompson’s legal situation has lingered over his head throughout his redshirt sophomore season.

Before the 2017 campaign, Thompson was accused and indicted on felony assault charges that were the result of a brawl back in the Spring. His accuser claimed that Thompson kicked him in the head during a fight. Despite these accusations, Thompson and his family have held firm in their belief that he is innocent.

Thompson’s legal situation still hangs in the balance, however. With everything going on, Thompson has used football as a way to escape the situation as he waits for it to be cleared up.

“I was able to put it to the side and not worry about it and just focus on football, just focus on what was going on with my teammates,” Thompson said during Media Day in New Orleans. “Just being with those guys, it really took a lot of pressure off of me and I was able to practice and do what I’m doing.”

Thompson has remained quiet about the situation throughout the season. Now, he is in the spotlight with the Sugar Bowl on the horizon. Thompson has to fill the role that senior Hootie Jones did before he went down with a season-ending injury in the Iron Bowl.

Thompson said his family has been with him every step of the way, which is something he is grateful for. They’ve helped him throughout this year.

“I just had my family,” Thompson said. “They supported me through all of it, and it’s just good having them on my side. My family and my teammates. Just with those guys, I feel like that’s all I really needed. They had the love and support for me and I was able to get through it.”

Thompson will start for the first time on the biggest stage. In Alabama’s playoff matchup with Clemson, Thompson will play in both the nickel and dime package next to fellow safety Ronnie Harrison.

Harrison and Thompson have formed a bond in their three years together. Thompson has turned to Harrison time after time for help both on and off the field.

“Most of that stuff he was going through, I was there for him,” Harrison said. “We talked about it every day. I just feel like he learned from all of that stuff. He’s a better man from it. He’s definitely done a lot of growing up.”

Their bond can also be seen in their play styles. Both players are passionate who love to fly to the ball and lay big hits on opposing players. The two use each other’s energy as motivation.

“They’re really good friends, so when they’re on the field, they definitely feed off of each other a whole lot,” safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said. “That’s really good when you have that bond with one of your teammates on the field.”

Thompson will see a lot of action against the Tigers. Clemson predominantly runs a spread offense, which requires Alabama to use its dime and nickel packages frequently.

He will get them most playing time of his career in Alabama’s biggest game of the season. Harrison and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick have helped Thompson prepare for his increased role.

Thompson has been ready from day one to take on this role. He prepares for every game like he’s going to see more action than ever has. He knew he would be ready when his number was called.

“I approach every game just like a starter,” Thompson said. “Prepare just like a starter, just in case something where to happen and I was able to go in. I approach every game like a starter and that’s the mindset that you have to have.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports