After five years in Knoxville, Jonathan Crompton is turning the page on his star-crossed college football career. After finishing an up-and-down career at the University of Tennessee on a strong note as a senior, Crompton is busy preparing himself for the next chapter of his football life — the National Football League.
Crompton has been working out at D-1 in Franklin, and while he wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, he will get to show pro scouts his wares on March 17 when he heads back to Knoxville for the Vols pro day.
“You always want to get bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “Coming out here and throwing with these guys and trying to get timing down with them, that always helps for pro day and things like that. Mainly coming out here and getting the chance to hang out with these guys, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and getting better at the same time.”
The highly recruited Crompton often endured the wrath of fans and media critics, but end the end, he put together a solid senior season to quiet the scoffers and redirect his career toward what he hopes will be a move now to the professional ranks.
In his final year, Crompton completed 224 of 384 passes for 2,800 with 27 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions.
“That’s part of life. I’m a very strong-willed person,” he said. “I credit everything to God and to my parents for raising me the way they did. That’s how you get through it; you rely on the people that you love and trust.”
Crompton’s development at Tennessee was late in coming, as he was in and out of the lineup even through his junior season and had to misfortune of playing each year with a different offensive coordinator.
“I think I showed people what I can do the last half of last year. It’s all on the tape, and we go from there,” he said. “Obviously, you would like to be in the same offense for more than one year, but that’s part of life.
“It taught me a lot of things about myself and about football. I know a lot of offenses and a lot of ball in my head. I’ve still got every notebook I’ve ever had, and every note I’ve ever taken I still have. I still go over them, and in my opinion, it’s prepared me for the next level.”
Crompton said he would not trade his experiences in Knoxville, even with the bad times that came for much of his tenure there.
“Adversity brings out your true character. It taught me about who I am as a person and as a football player, as a son, a boyfriend, everything about life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been a life-changing experience,” he said.
Austin Rogers, the former Lipscomb High star who missed his senior year at UT with a knee injury, is working out at D-1 with Crompton. He said he is glad to see his Vols buddy overcome the obstacles that came his way in Knoxville.
“You try not to read into many articles and blogs and the things posted online,” Rogers said. “But you can word of it, and it’s hard to stay away from it, because it’s all around you, especially in Knoxville. We just tried to rally around Jonathan and help him, and it was good to see him get that confidence back this season.
As for having to switch coordinators so many times, Crompton tries to look at that as a positive, too.
“I’ve had five different offenses. You finally get comfortable in an offense, everybody gets healthy and the coaches get used to how you play, and you get used to how they call, and it just starts clicking,” he said of his senior season turnaround.
Rogers said he believed early on that Crompton could be a potential NFL quarterback, and that he was glad to see his Big Orange teammate regain his confidence as a senior.
“I said that up in Knoxville when he first got there as a freshman. He’s got all the tools, and as far as offense, he had to learn five offenses in five years basically. He has all the tools and the mental capacity to do it,” Rogers said.
As for how Crompton wants to be remembered by Vols fans, he said, “Everybody’s going to have their different opinions. Hopefully, [they remember] that I never quit, that I won’t give up and I’m going to be a Volunteer for the rest of my life. I had fun.”