Arkansas State names Thompson interim head football coach

JONESBORO – Arkansas State Director of Athletics Terry Mohajir announced Wednesday that current defensive coordinator John Thompson has been named the Red Wolves’ interim head football coach, effective immediately.

Thompson will oversee A-State’s preparations for the upcoming Bowl and coordinate the Red Wolves’ efforts in the game after former head coach Gus Malzahn stepped down from his position Tuesday to accept the same role at Auburn.

As defensive coordinator and linebackers coach this season, Thompson oversaw Arkansas State’s defense that ranked first in the Sun Belt Conference in scoring defense and third in total defense.

The Red Wolves had a league-high 10 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, including first-team choices Nathan Herrold at linebacker and Ryan Carrethers on the defensive line.

Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin earned Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive year and wide receiver J.D. McKissic was recognized as the Freshman of the Year.

Arkansas State saw at least 10 players earn All-Sun Belt Conference recognition for the third consecutive year and the sixth time overall since the league’s inaugural 2001 season. A-State had five offensive, four defensive and one special teams players earn a spot on the team, and it’s 10 total players selected were the most in the league.

Aplin became just the second player in Sun Belt history to be named the conference’s Player of the Year two times, joining former North Texas defensive lineman Brandon Kennedy (2002-03.)

Aplin finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the conference in total offense (3,572 yards) and passing efficiency (155.8) and No. 2 in passing yards (3,129). He broke his own school record for passing touchdowns with 23 and was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week three straight times to end the regular season.