The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa defensive lineman Anterio Thompson makes the most of his ‘last opportunity’

After helping lead Iowa Western to a NJCAA Division I national title in 2022, Thompson is beginning to find his footing on Iowa’s special teams unit.
Grace Smith
Western Michigan quarterback Treyson Bourguet prepares to catch a snap during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10. Western Michigan had possession of the ball for 26 minutes and seven seconds.


One of the first things Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz noticed about Anterio Thompson was his hands.

And it wasn’t just the size of them.

“He’s got the heaviest hands of anyone I’ve ever been around,” Ferentz said. “When you slap hands with him, you feel it.”

That was apparent in Iowa’s 41-10 win over Western Michigan when the 6-foot-3, 293-pounder  blocked a punt midway through the third quarter and the ball bounced all the way past the back line of the end zone for a safety.

No one in Kinnick Stadium would have guessed Thompson’s lack of experience on special teams, as the sophomore nearly got his hands on a punt in the first half as well.

Linebacker Jay Higgins said that after Thompson missed his first punt block attempt, he came back to the sideline upset. Higgins, who added that Thompson is one of the most athletic people he’s met, was happy that the sophomore bounced back and redeemed himself in the second half.

The Dubuque, Iowa, native hadn’t played a snap on special teams before arriving at Iowa, but he now holds a memory he will never forget.

“I just saw me and [the punter],” Thompson said. “It was slow motion, like in the movies.”

Thompson went to Dubuque Hempstead High School and played both defensive tackle and end. He amassed 39 tackles as a senior, including seven tackles for loss, one sack, and one touchdown to earn first-team all-conference honors.

Thompson struggled in school, so he decided to go the JUCO route and play for Iowa Western Community College. He had dreams of eventually playing at the Division I level and knew that he possessed the talent to do so. He took it upon himself to break his bad habits and get his school work in on time, be a better classmate, and ask his teachers for help.

“I knew that was my last chance and my last opportunity,” Thompson said.”I knew I had to keep my head straight through the bad moments …  It was just about understanding that if you want to play football, school is a major part.”

In March 2022, Thompson and his high school coach Jeff Hoerner attended Iowa’s annual open house that takes place the Friday night before the first spring practice. Ferentz said Hoerner told the Iowa coaching staff about Thompson and recommended that they take a look at him.

After watching Thompson on the field and on film, Iowa defensive line coach Kelvin Bell made the decision to recruit him.

Thompson redshirted his freshman season with the Reviers, which he said motivated him to get bigger, faster, and stronger. The next season, Thompson earned first-team all-conference and all-region honors as Iowa Western posted a 10-2 record and won the NJCAA Division I national title on Dec. 15, 2022.

The following day, Thompson took an official visit to Iowa, and on Dec. 21, 2022, he signed his letter of intent to be a Hawkeye.

Thompson enrolled at Iowa in January 2023 and has since been fighting for a chance to see the field.  He was open-minded about helping the Hawkeyes in any facet of the game, so when his name was called on special teams, he had no other choice but to execute.

“I think he just came in and tried to learn from day one,” cornerback Cooper DeJean said of Thompson.

Before DeJean became a key starter on defense, he was in the same situation as Thompson and first found his footing on special teams.

DeJean, who was named a preseason All-American, emphasized how important it is to make plays like Thompson did on special teams because it helps flip the field and put the offense in a better position to succeed.

After the blocked punt and safety, the Hawkeyes received an extra possession and had their most efficient drive of the game.

The Iowa offense went 53 yards on six plays to find the end zone behind true freshman Kamari Moulton, who had 35 of those yards and scored the touchdown. The Hawkeyes then successfully converted a two-point conversion as quarterback Cade McNamara found tight end Erick All at the goal line.

With the conference schedule right around the corner, Thompson hopes to continue to make a positive impact in any way he can.

“He doesn’t even know how good he can become. He’s still kind of figuring it out,” Ferentz said of Thompson. “It’s gonna be fun to watch him grow up.”

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.