TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State will be without its leading rusher for the rest of the season.
Senior tailback Chris Thompson suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee during Saturday’s 33-20 win over Miami, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday afternoon.
“He was upset,” Fisher said. “Very disappointed. He’s what’s right about college football. This game takes no prisoners. It is a very unforgiving game.”
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Thompson leads Florida State in rushes (91) and rushing yards (687) and also had five touchdowns. He had 100-yard rushing games against Wake Forest, Clemson and NC State and was on pace to become the Seminoles’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996.
His Florida State career has been hampered because of injuries. Thompson was limited to just five games in 2011 after breaking two vertebrae in his back in a game at Wake Forest. And now comes this injury, just eight games into the season, which occurred on the night of Thompson’s 22nd birthday.
Fisher said an MRI revealed the extent of the damage to Thompson’s knee Sunday night. Quarterback EJ Manuel was quick to reach out to him, sending a text telling Thompson that he loved him.
“Chris is a better person than he is a football player,” Manuel said. “That says a lot, because he is a great football player.”
Thompson has 1,735 rushing yards and 430 receiving yards at Florida State. A former sprinter at Madison County (Fla.) High, Thompson has shown burst and the willingness to put his shoulder down and deliver hits in an attempt to gain second-chance yards. He’s also an exceptional blocker despite being just 5 feet 8 and 190 pounds.
Fisher thinks Thompson will recover from the injury and play in the NFL.
“I think he will come back from this really well,” Fisher said.
It is the second major season-ending injury for Florida State, which also lost All-American defensive end Brandon Jenkins to a foot injury in the opener against Murray State.
Florida State (7-1, 4-1 ACC Atlantic), which is No. 12 in the BCS standings going into Saturday’s home game against surprise ACC Coastal leader Duke (6-2, 3-1), does have depth at running back to overcome Thompson’s injury.
A pair of sophomores now will be expected to carry the load. James Wilder Jr. has run for 369 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns, and Devonta Freeman has run for 287 yards and three touchdowns. And slimmed-down senior fullback Lonnie Pryor has chipped in with 163 yards and six touchdowns.
“We lose a brother, but we still have to continue to fight,” Manuel said. “We have younger guys like James and Devonta who can step into that spot and fill that void for us.”