FOLEY — Once again, the eyes of the nation will be on Foley, Alabama when senior receiver Perry Thompson plays in the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 3, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.
Thompson was recognized with a jersey ceremony on Friday morning at Foley High School where the five-star Auburn commit marked the Lions’ first Under Armour All-American since receiver Julio Jones in 2008’s inaugural game. Offensive lineman DJ Fluker was also named to the United States Army All-America Game the following season.
Thompson acknowledged the select company he joined and said all the hard work has paid off so far.
“Just as a kid not thinking I’d get this far but I’ve reached my goals and I’m really proud of myself and I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish,” Thompson said. “My work’s been put in, now we just keep grinding.”
Foley head football coach Deric Scott agreed Friday was an important occasion for both the program and Thompson as a player.
“This is a tremendous day for Foley football and especially for Perry and his accomplishments while he’s been here with Foley football. We just can’t speak enough on how excited we are for him with this opportunity to represent Foley High School,” Scott said. “But also, just for him as a person to give him the opportunity to go out there and accomplish some of the goals he set for himself and see them come to fruition.”
In nine games played as an Auburn Tiger pledge this season, Thompson caught 53 passes for 718 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns where a 93-yard score set a career-best. He added 102 rushing yards on 21 carries with a touchdown as well as 93 yards on 5-of-6 passing with 2 touchdowns for 913 total yards and 10 total touchdowns.
According to MaxPreps stats, Thompson closed his Foley career with 207 catches for 2,616 receiving yards with 22 receiving touchdowns. He also became the single-season reception leader with 87 catches last year which surpassed Jones’ 75-reception season, also from his junior year.
While he acknowledged some similarities, Thompson has said he appreciates the comparison but wants to be the first “Perry Thompson” more than becoming “The Next Julio Jones.”
“It’s pretty cool just another receiver from our high school go to this All-America Game so I’m going to have a target on my back for sure,” Thompson said Friday.
Still, he looked forward to showcasing his skills against the nation’s top high school recruits on ESPN.
“I’m really excited to get to play against some real high-quality competition out of state,” Thompson said. “I’m ready to see what my talents can do.”
Before then, he’ll compete in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game alongside Spanish Fort’s Cole McConathy, a new Miami commit, on Dec. 16. Scott said that recognition, along with Friday’s All-America honor, gets the Foley program closer to where it wants to go.
“I think it really sets the tone for what we’re trying to build here at Foley High School, having guys that are recognized as being some of the best in your state but also some of the best in the nation,” Scott said.
As he reflected on his time as a Lion, Thompson was happy to have the support of his friends and family on hand as well as the coaching staff where he said Scott was part of the guiding force that helped him navigate high school.
“Felt pretty good to have everybody come out and see all the faces from my family so it was a good environment,” Thompson said. “(I learned a lot from Coach Scott), us coming in as freshmen, freshmen like to complain about a lot of stuff and are immature but he took me under his wing and took me in like a son and I learned a lot from him.”
The head coach said the results of their efforts were shown in the number of people in the stands.
“Just goes to show you what type of support he has here at Foley High School and in the Foley community,” Scott said. “We’re all going to support him in all of his endeavors.”
As a senior, he got to play one last time with a group of teammates he had grown close with over the years, but one of them had shared the field with Thompson for much longer in the form of his cousin and running back Kolton Nero, one of the state’s leading rushers.
“We all came in out of middle school as freshmen and they’re my brothers. From middle school to now, we were young but we’re old now,” Thompson said. “Me and (Kolton) in the yard, we used to play tackle football all the time so now we’re in high school and soon to be going off to college so that feels good.”