Optimism remains for Thompson

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- After Saturday's game, Florida State's players sang "Happy Birthday" to Chris Thompson. It wasn't emotional, Jimbo Fisher said. It was celebratory.

"He was laughing," Fisher said. "But we didn't know the MRI by then."

Thompson's birthday ended on crutches, and Monday it was announced that he'd torn the ACL in his left knee and would miss the remainder of the season.

The injury is an enormous blow for the Florida State offense, which had leaned heavily on Thompson and the running game this season. For Thompson, however, it's simply the latest setback in a career beset by injuries.

Early in Florida State's Week 5 loss to Wake Forest last year, Thompson ran into a tackler head-first, breaking two bones in his back. He missed the final eight games of the season and required nine months of rehab to get back into football shape for this season.

More rehab awaits Thompson once again, but his future remains uncertain.

Fisher said Florida State will appeal to the NCAA in hopes of getting a medical redshirt for Thompson based on his extensive injury history, which by year's end will have included 13 games missed in the past two seasons.

"We'll explore with the NCAA if there's anything that can happen from that," Fisher said. "We'll explore every avenue we can."

NCAA rules generally prohibit a medical redshirt from being issued for a player who appears in more than 30 percent of his team's games. Thompson would not fit that criteria, but Fisher said he'll continue to investigate options.

"We'll see if there's anything with two major injuries," he said. "It's nothing the kid's doing, and he's never been redshirted. We'll see."

If the knee injury does mark the end of Thompson's Florida State career, he finishes as one of the school's most dynamic runners, having averaged 6.3 yards per carry during his career. He racked up a school-record five touchdown runs of at least 70 yards, including two against Wake Forest earlier this season.

Thompson figured to be selected in next year's NFL draft, although his smaller stature -- 55-foot-8, 187 pounds -- would likely have made him a later-round pick.

That remains a possibility, Fisher said, offering comparisons between Thompson and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who returned to action following an ACL tear in just seven months.

"He'll heal," Fisher said. "Those knees come back. I think he'll come back from this very well."

No date for surgery has been set, but Fisher said Thompson experienced only minor swelling.

On Sunday, Thompson posted a message on his Facebook page offering optimism for concerned fans.

"Just wanna let everyone know I'm ok," he wrote. "I'm living, we just beat Miami for the third year in a row. What more can I ask for. God allows everything to happen for a reason. No reason for me to be down about it because ‘there's a blessing in every lesson.’ C4 gets knocked down but i live to play another day. Never forget that."

News spread throughout the Florida State locker room on Sunday, and quarterback EJ Manuel said he exchanged text messages with Thompson that night.

"It's tough," Manuel said. "I feel bad for him. He's like a brother to me. His locker's across from mine, and we talk every day. I texted him last night just letting him know I love him. It's his senior year, he's come back from an injury to have a fabulous season, and for it to be cut short like that, it's tough to see.

"But knowing Chris, he's going to be resilient. He'll rehab, do what he has to do to get healthy and have a great career."