INJURED Thompson planning on full recovery

Saturday, August 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ When Oklahoma's football players walked onto the field for media day Friday, cornerback Michael Thompson was there with them, wearing his No. 19 jersey as usual.

He needed a crutch to get around because his right ankle is in a cast. But three months to the day after a near-fatal car crash, Thompson sounded confident he would play for the Sooners again.

``I still love the game and I'll always love the game, and I'm trying to get back to it as soon as possible,'' he said. ``I'll redshirt this year and I'll be back for two more, for sure.''

Thompson, 21, started all 13 games last season as Oklahoma won the national championship. Most often assigned to the opponent's top receiver, he had one interception, 13 passes broken up and finished sixth on the team with 54 tackles.

On the afternoon of May 3, his 1994 Nissan pickup truck ran off a Norman road and slammed into a tree. He underwent eight hours of surgery to repair a broken leg, jaw and ankle. He had cuts to both knees, a deep cut to his right hamstring and a pelvic injury that caused internal bleeding.

Thompson also fractured several ribs, broke his collar bone and bruised his lungs.

``I'm good. I don't have any pain,'' he said. ``I'm a little stiff in my ankle, but I haven't been on any medication for I don't know how long. I'm pain free.''

The police report on the crash said Thompson was traveling 70 mph, 20 mph above the limit. The report also said there was no indication he hit the brakes or tried to steer away from the tree. No skid marks were found.

The trooper investigating the crash did not detect any evidence or odor of alcohol or drugs and Thompson was not tested.

``I've heard umpteen number of stories,'' he said. ``I have no memory of the day and I just wish people would respect the fact that I don't have memory of it and I don't want to.

``I'm just trying to go on. That's three months in past.''

Thompson said that twice while in high school, he had minor accidents when he fell asleep at the wheel. Could that have been the cause this time?

``It could have been that or anything,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to forget about that.''

Thompson said his last memory before the crash was of going to class in the morning. ``After that, I came to a couple days later in the ICU.''

``There's tons of speculations out there and I can't do anything about it,'' he said. ``All I can do is continue to be around my teammates and get back on the field. That's all I'm worried about.''

Coach Bob Stoops said Thompson has been a workhorse in the training room, and it has paid off.

``The doctors and therapists have been amazed at his recovery to this point,'' Stoops said. ``He was just in there lifting weights and showing coach (Jerry) Schmidt how strong he was. All the kids got a charge out of that and were excited for him.''

The biggest obstacle to a potential comeback is the ankle, which was shattered. As a defensive back, Thompson can't afford to lose quickness and agility.

He said doctors have told him it's possible he could return, but it's also possible he might not.

``But I'm leaning more towards getting back, and that's what I'm gearing up for,'' he said.