5th Season at GSU
John Thompson, Georgia State's assistant head coach for scheduling and strategic planning and defensive coordinator, possesses 29 years of college coaching experience, including 25 seasons as a coordinator and two years as the head coach at East Carolina.
One of the first coaches hired by Bill Curry when he assembled his original GSU staff, Thompson also coaches the inside linebackers. He previously worked one season with Curry as linebackers coach at Alabama in 1987.
Recognized as a top defensive mind, Thompson has worked as defensive coordinator or co-coordinator at Southeastern Conference schools Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and LSU, as well as at Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State.
As a defensive coordinator, Thompson has seen more than 40 of his defensive players drafted by, or sign with, National Football League teams. Forty of his defenders earned all-conference honors, five were named all-America, and one, former Northwestern State linebacker Gary Reasons, has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Thompson came to Georgia State in July 2008 after spending the 2007 season as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Ole Miss. That followed a one-year stint as athletics director at his alma mater, the University of Central Arkansas, which he guided in its move to NCAA Division I. He served as co-defensive coordinator at South Carolina in 2005.
As the head coach at East Carolina in 2003-04, he coached three first-team all-conference players and seven all-freshman selections.
Thompson was the defensive coordinator at Florida in 2002, when the Gators' pass defense was ranked seventh in the nation, allowing just 162.4 yards per game. He also spent two years at Arkansas, serving as co-defensive coordinator in 2000 and then defensive coordinator in 2001. In 2000, the Razorbacks were second in the nation in pass defense while leading the SEC in pass defense and total defense. The following year, Thompson helped lead Arkansas to the 2002 Cotton Bowl.
Thompson's first position as a defensive coordinator came at Northwestern State, where he served from 1983-86, and again from 1988-89 after spending the 1987 season at Alabama.
In 1990, he became the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech for two seasons before moving to Southern Miss as defensive coordinator in 1992. He was given additional responsibility as assistant head coach in 1993. In Thompson's seven seasons at Southern Miss (1992-98), the Golden Eagles won or shared two Conference USA titles, twice ranked among the top 25 nationally in scoring defense and made two bowl appearances.
In one season at Memphis in 1999, his Tiger defense ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense and 23rd in total defense.
A native of Forrest City, Ark., Thompson began as a high school coach in 1977 while pursuing his bachelor's degree at UCA. He continued to coach prep football until moving to the college ranks in 1982 as a graduate assistant at Arkansas, where he worked under Lou Holtz.
A high school quarterback, Thompson was inducted into the Forrest City High School Hall of Fame in 2006. His playing career also includes two seasons as a defensive back at Central Arkansas. He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from UCA in 1978.
Thompson and his wife, Charleen, have two sons, Cabe and Hays.