Oklahoma football: Tyrus Thompson’s family motivates him to improve, make NFL

Oklahoma football: Tyrus Thompson’s family motivates him to improve, make NFL

NORMAN — Most young, struggling parents are happy to receive help from friends and family.

Tyrus and Olivia Thompson, though, must turn down almost everything.

A friend offers to buy diapers? A distant relative wants to lend the couple — which only has one car — a vehicle? The Thompsons cannot accept, or else they put Tyrus’ future in very real jeopardy.

Such is life for a college football player who also happens to be a husband and father of two toddlers.

“If somebody gave me something for free and then somebody told OU, Tyrus would be suspended while they investigate it,” Olivia Thompson said.

Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma’s starting left tackle, continues to rise on 2015 NFL Draft lists throughout a very strong senior season. Virtually every player in major college football harbors NFL dreams, but not many are motivated the way Thompson is every day by his hard-working, selfless wife and two young children.

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“Knowing that our whole future is based off of that, and seeing my kids right there, yeah,” Thompson said. “No doubt.”

NCAA rules obviously prohibit Thompson from receiving compensation from OU, and working any additional job is virtually impossible during football season. Olivia Thompson works full-time at 7-Eleven — logging long, difficult and sometimes overnight hours — which makes care for their 2-year-old son King and 8-month-old daughter Aria a daunting challenge.

Olivia’s work schedule comes out each week on Sunday and she’s given very little flexibility, making weekly planning extremely difficult for the Thompson family.

Thompson’s Oklahoma teammates pitch in sometimes, especially when he’s forced to bring the kids to the OU football facilities. Fellow senior offensive tackle Daryl Williams, who also signed with OU in 2010, is Aria’s Godfather.

All of those planning problems are amplified when the Sooners play on the road, like they do this weekend at Iowa State.

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“The road games are the hardest,” Olivia Thompson said. “I can’t go because my job doesn’t care that he plays football or that I don’t have child care. There have been times when I’ve been on the brink of getting fired because they don’t care. I’ve almost lost my job two or three times.”

Tyrus, though, said he’s hoping his wife won’t have to work there much longer.

In the latest ESPN/Scouts, Inc., rankings, Thompson is pegged as the No. 31 player available in next year’s draft.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay lists Thompson 22nd overall in his latest draft prospect rankings.

Still, being around the OU football program has made Olivia Thompson quite skeptical when it comes to pre-draft rankings and predictions.

“I have watched players get crushed by thinking these projections on TV are accurate, and most of them were completely and totally wrong,” she said. “I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket.”

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