When Braden Thompson was a freshman, he was around 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. The Nebraska City athlete has since grown, and now the 6-4, 215-pound senior-to-be is a matchup problem for opposing defenses on the football field for the Pioneers.
Although Nebraska City finished just 2-6 in Class C-1 this past fall, Thompson had a breakout junior campaign. After notching 29 catches for 329 yards and five scores as a sophomore in 2019, the tight end/receiver hybrid led the team with 47 receptions for 898 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020. He also started at middle linebacker last fall and recorded a team-best 85 tackles with two interceptions.
With the success came recruiting attention for Thompson, who had three games of 100-plus yards receiving as a junior. Nebraska’s Kenny Wilhite, as well as North Dakota State, have been contacting Thompson the most. But his recruitment beginnings stretch back to 2019 when he was a sophomore.
“My sophomore year, Coach Aaron Bohl from Wyoming came and talked to my coach at school,” Thompson said. “This year, Nebraska’s talked to me quite a bit, with North Dakota State and South Dakota State. I’ve had a couple virtual visits with Minnesota Moorhead — Coach (Drew) Cady FaceTimed me a couple times after those visits. Northwest Missouri State came and talked to my coach the last week or so.”
Thompson, who hauled in at least one touchdown catch in all eight games last fall, excelled at being both a pass catcher and blocker for Nebraska City.
“When they stretch me out to that receiver position, I think I bring size,” he said. “I’m just able to go up and grab the ball over smaller corners. Then I’m able to come back to the line and block on run plays. I feel like I’m pretty versatile.”
Thompson, who was also a key member of the Pioneers’ basketball team that finished 11-12 but knocked off now-Class B-state-champ Beatrice late in its season, will be putting the work in this offseason. He knows the areas where he wants to improve in, too.
“I want to work on getting faster, to decrease my 40 time and get that as low as I can,” Thompson said. “I also want to put on around around 5-10 more pounds of muscle so I’m stronger for next season.”
Whenever the NCAA’s recruiting dead period is lifted, Thompson said he wants to visit North Dakota State, Nebraska, Wyoming and Northwest Missouri State the most.
“I’m going to get stronger and faster. Hopefully this dead period will get lifted so I can go on some visits and talk to some coaches in person,” he said.