Decision Adds to Anticipation As Cass Tech's Thompson Begins Senior Year

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

August 18, 2022

DETROIT – Monday will mark both an end and the beginning for Detroit Cass Tech senior Jalen Thompson.

Greater DetroitOn one hand, it will mark an end to everyone in the recruiting world wondering which college football program he’ll initially give a commitment, as he had targeted Monday as the decision date to pledge his services to one of the more than 30 Division I college programs who have offered him a scholarship.

But it also will be the beginning, because make no mistake about it: College coaches who lose out on Monday aren’t going to give up trying to woo the ultra-talented Thompson until national signing day in December.

It’s no wonder, because Thompson is one of the premier defensive line recruits in the Midwest.

Last season, Thompson finished with 10 sacks, 42 tackles and 14 tackles for loss despite being the constant focus of attention for blocking schemes of opposing offenses.

He has narrowed his college contenders down to, in alphabetical order, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Pittsburgh, and chose Aug. 22 as the commitment date for two reasons.

One, it’s the first day of game week for Cass Tech’s season opener Aug. 26 at Southfield Arts & Technology.

Second, it’s the birthday of his late grandfather, and Thompson figured it was a good way to honor him.

“It was a day I felt comfortable with (committing,)” he said.

So Thompson will make one college program very happy Monday, then start preparing to make life miserable for opposing offenses during his senior season.

Of course, the big game that many have circled is Cass Tech’s annual tussle against Detroit Public School League rival Detroit Martin Luther King, which will take place on Sept. 16 at Cass Tech.

Many will turn out to see how much Thompson can pressure Martin Luther King quarterback and Oregon-pledge Dante Moore.

“Every time we go against them, my thing is to show them he’s not who they think he is and for him to get off the least amount of balls as possible,” Thompson said.

By no means is Thompson a late bloomer in football, given he has been playing in youth leagues since he was in elementary school.

However, he did not play for Cass Tech when he was a freshman because he decided to play youth football instead.

But after coming out for the varsity team his sophomore year, it certainly didn’t take long for Thompson to show he was special.

Cass Tech then-head coach Thomas Wilcher kept telling Thompson that his time was coming, and then proceeded to ask Thompson one question.

“Are you ready to blow up?” Thompson said Wilcher asked him.

Thompson sure did, and by the time his junior year was over, college coaches were salivating over his abilities.

This past offseason was spent touring some of the prominent programs in the country, including Ohio State, which offered him a scholarship in June after Thompson appeared at a camp there.

Going into his senior year, Thompson said polishing up mental aspects of the game is what he wants to focus on the most as he tries to lead Cass Tech to the Division 1 title.

“Really just fixing as many mental errors that I can and try and prepare for college as best of my ability,” he said. “Just fixing little things like techniques and definitely getting bigger. But mental things are most important right now.”

Cass Tech head coach Marvin Rushing, who is in his second year, said Thompson’s enhanced role as a leader will be vital this fall.

“He’s going to help lead our younger guys, which will be beneficial to us,” Rushing said. “We’re going to be a heavy mix of seniors and younger guys. That’s been pivotal. He’s been leading by example, working hard in the classroom and off of the field.”

It’s actually Thompson’s prowess in the classroom as a 3.8 student that has impressed Rushing more, especially while traveling the recruiting trail.

“It’s the way he carries himself off of the field,” Rushing said. “He is studying engineering here and plans on studying engineering in college. He’s a very accomplished student. The thing that stood out to me most in the offseason is that we had coaches come in here and he was really interested in what the Ivy League schools had to say.”

It should be a fun fall for everyone both and on and off the field to watch Thompson, who is ready to tell the world where he plans to play football and attend college Monday.

But he’s simply too talented for his recruiting to completely stop until December.

“Coaches now are texting me,” he said.

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020.

PHOTO Detroit Cass Tech’s Jalen Thompson is expected to again rank among the state’s top defenders this season. (Photo courtesy of Jalen Thompson.)

1st & Goal: 2022 Week 5 Preview

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 23, 2022

This weekend is the midpoint of this regular season, and stands to be a turning point for several teams this season.

MI Student AidEight games will match teams undefeated so far this fall. A number of others will pit league title contenders against each other, with the Port Huron and Flint areas, Detroit Catholic League, Macomb County and rural Greater Lansing enjoying some of their best annual rivalry games over the next two days.

Games are Friday unless noted. Click for the full schedule from and check out the broadcast schedule from

Bay & Thumb

Frankenmuth (4-0) at Freeland (4-0)

This has become a league matchup with statewide appeal over the last few seasons. Frankenmuth has won the last three meetings, last season’s deciding the Tri-Valley Conference 10 title. But both went on to reach MHSAA Semifinals, Freeland in Division 4 and the Eagles in Division 5. Frankenmuth has handed lone losses this fall to Goodrich and Birch Run and given up only 30 points total. Freeland’s defense literally has been one better, giving up only 29 points so far.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Flint Hamady (4-0) at Flint Beecher (2-2), Port Huron Northern (4-0) at Port Huron (3-1), Sanford Meridian (3-1) at Gladwin (4-0), Millington (4-0) at Standish Sterling (4-0).

Greater Detroit

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (4-0) at Macomb Dakota (4-0)

This is the midpoint as well in the Macomb Area Conference Red schedule – and these are the two contenders left without a defeat. They are frequently at the top, although last season they tied for third in the league standings. Dakota has won the last three meetings (starting with the 2019 playoffs), and both have done the work to make this arguably the best matchup in Week 5. Chippewa Valley’s season-opening win over Detroit Catholic Central keeps looking better and better. Same scenario for the Cougars, who defeated Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice in Week 1 and have given up 17 points over its four victories.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY West Bloomfield (4-0) at Rochester Adams (3-1), Detroit Catholic Central (3-1) at Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (2-2), Brighton (4-0) at Northville (4-0), Detroit Central (4-0) at Detroit Southeastern (3-1).


Bay City Western (3-1) at Mount Pleasant (4-0)

The Warriors have looked like a Saginaw Valley League North contender especially the last two weeks with 20-plus point wins over Traverse City West and Midland Dow, and was on the cusp last season while losing to Dow by a point and Mount Pleasant 31-16. Western can become the team to chase this weekend by avenging that defeat to the Oilers, who are coming off one-score wins over Cadillac and Traverse City Central. Mount Pleasant has won the last seven games in this series.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Holt (2-2) at DeWitt (2-2), Grand Blanc (2-2) at East Lansing (4-0), Pewamo-Westphalia (3-1) at Fowler (4-0), Mason (4-0) at Haslett (3-1).

Northern Lower Peninsula

Cadillac (2-2) at Gaylord (3-1)

With the Big North Conference now at four teams for football, and these two coming off wins in their league openers, this matchup will decide a share of the BNC championship. Gaylord bounced back nicely from its Week 3 loss to Marquette to defeat Petoskey last week, while Cadillac has impressive one-score losses to Midland and Mount Pleasant. The Vikings won last year’s meeting with Gaylord 22-0, their fourth-straight victory in the series.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Kalkaska (2-2) at Boyne City (4-0), East Jordan (2-2) at Maple City Glen Lake (3-1), Lake City (2-2) at McBain (2-2). SATURDAY Sault Ste. Marie (4-0) at Ogemaw Heights (2-2).

Southeast & Border

Parma Western (2-2) at Jackson Northwest (3-1)

Jackson Northwest is on the rise as its third win last week guaranteed the Mounties their best finish since 2013 and equaled their number of victories the last three seasons combined. And suddenly, Northwest could figure into the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference race with four of the other top six teams in the standings coming up over the next five weeks. Western certainly can’t be overlooked among them; its losses were by seven points to Detroit Country Day and five to Jackson Lumen Christi.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Grass Lake (2-2) at Michigan Center (1-3), Hanover-Horton (2-2) at Napoleon (4-0), Petersburg Summerfield (2-2) at Ottawa Lake Whiteford (4-0), Chelsea (3-1) at Adrian (3-2).

Southwest Corridor

Plainwell (3-1) at Edwardsburg (3-1)

Edwardsburg’s Wolverine Conference winning streak lives at 35, but not without two of its most significant challenges over the last six seasons. Three Rivers pushed the Eddies to within eight points in Week 2, and Edwardsburg escaped with a three-point win over Vicksburg last week thanks to a last-second field goal. Plainwell has made the playoffs nine of the last 10 seasons (plus 2020, when all teams qualified) and would be a candidate to challenge the Eddies too – although Edwardsburg won last year’s matchup 49-0.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY St. Joseph (3-1) at Portage Central (2-2), Homer (3-1) at Union City (3-1), Constantine (3-1) at Watervliet (3-1). SATURDAY South Lyon East (3-1) at Paw Paw (3-1).

Upper Peninsula

Bark River-Harris (3-1) at Iron Mountain (3-1)

Iron Mountain has won all six recent meetings, including one in the playoffs. But Bark River-Harris gave the Mountaineers their best matchup of those six last season, falling only 28-22. They play in different divisions of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, and both are championship contenders in their respective divisions – plus Bark River-Harris is ranked No. 6 and Iron Mountain No. 10 in Division 8 by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Negaunee (4-0) at Ishpeming (2-2), Houghton (3-1) at Hancock (1-3), Gladstone (4-0) at Marquette (1-3), Escanaba (1-3) at Kingsford (2-2).

West Michigan

Caledonia (4-0) at Grandville (4-0)

This, along with Rockford/East Kentwood matchup below, will bring the number of teams leading the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red from four to two by Friday night’s end. The intrigue here is both are undefeated overall – plus Grandville sees Rockford next week, and Caledonia sees East Kentwood. Grandville owns a 4-2 edge in this series since Caledonia moved to the Red in 2016, but Caledonia has won two of the last three including 24-14 last fall. The Fighting Scots are stoppers; they’ve given up 28 points total so far. But opening wins over Grand Blanc and Byron Center put Grandville into the spotlight quickly this season.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Rockford (4-0) at East Kentwood (3-1), Beal City (4-0) at Evart (4-0), Ada Forest Hills Eastern (4-0) at Grand Rapids Catholic Central (4-0), Zeeland West (4-0) at Muskegon (3-1).


Brown City (4-0) at Martin (4-0)

Brown City is playing 8-player this fall for the first time and showed the fast start isn’t beginners’ luck again last week with a 58-40 win over perennial Finals contender Suttons Bay. Defeating Martin would be a similar if not more substantial accomplishment. The Clippers haven’t given up a point since Week 2 and moved up to No. 1 in Division 1 this week, while Brown City is No. 5.

Keep an eye on these FRIDAY Climax-Scotts (4-0) at Athens (3-1), Eau Claire (3-1) at Bridgman (4-0), Breckenridge (3-1) at Morrice (4-0). SATURDAY Merrill (4-0) at Portland St. Patrick (3-1).

Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

PHOTO Detroit Cass Tech quarterback Leeshaun Mumpfield drops back to pass against Detroit Renaissance during a Week 3 win. (Photo by Chardonne’ U of Olivia B. Photography.)