WEST LONG BRANCH – Alex Thompson did not begin his college days at Monmouth University, but at some point recently, the light bulb went on for the Hawks’ true freshman center.
A standout football player and wrestler at Haddon Heights, the 2013 state wrestling champion at 285 pounds originally committed to play football at perennial FCS contender Delaware. Before he got there, longtime head coach K.C. Keeler was fired, so Thompson decided to weigh his options.
He didn’t like the offers he was getting, so he spent last fall at Milford Academy. The major college football offers still weren’t there after the prep season, so he opted to go back to wrestling, settling on West Virginia for the spring semester.
Admittedly, the move back to wrestling wasn’t working for him either, so he has now made his way back to football. Based on the way training camp has been going for the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Lawnside native, his days of moving and changing his mind are likely over.
With 10 days until Monmouth opens its season against Delaware St. at Kessler Field, Thompson is very much in the mix to be this team’s starting center.
“I’m just happy I did what I did and came back to football,” Thompson said following Monmouth’s 16th training camp practice on Tuesday morning. “I love the atmosphere, I love the players and I really feel like I’m going to have a good year.”
“For an interior offensive lineman, he’s very athletic,” Hawks head coach Kevin Callahan said. “He’s really done a great job of learning the scheme very quickly. Early on, he had a couple of issues with snaps, but he’s really ironed that out and he’s doing a much better job with that right now.”
Should Thompson win the job at center, he will be a part of an offensive line whose experience varies.
The official two-deep will not be released until Monday, but Thompson, redshirt sophomore left tackle Keith Kluetz, fifth-year senior left guard Reece Johnston, redshirt sophomore right guard Hunter McHugh and true junior right tackle Rotchill Medor all worked with the first-team offense during live periods on Tuesday.
Johnston started all 12 games at right guard last fall. Kluetz and McHugh appeared in games last fall, but have zero career starts between them, and Medor is prepping for his first season in West Long Branch after coming over from Brooklyn-based junior college power ASA College.
“I've just tried to teach him to keep his composure out there,” said senior quarterback Brandon Hill, who has struck up a relationship with Thompson based on the fact he grew up in nearby Audubon. “Everything won't always go right. You might have a bad snap here and there, but you just have to keep it calm and keep executing.”
“Mistakes are gonna happen. We don’t expect them to, but it's the nature of the beast. The young guys just have to remain calm if and when that happens.”
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