Alex Thomson happy to return to the field
HUNTINGTON - When Marshall quarterback Alex Thomson took his first snaps in practice on Friday, the team periods (offense vs. defense) represented the first time he had been live on the field in an 11-on-11 situation in nearly a year.
Last season, Thomson suffered a shoulder injury in the second game of the season that ended his 2017 season just two games in.
Not only was Thomson appreciative to be starting a new opportunity at Marshall, he was just happy to be back on a football field, period.
“The whole summer, I was talking to the other quarterbacks about how this was going to be my first live reps since September,” Thomson said. “You take it for granted when you are doing it every single day and it’s not taken away from you. When it’s taken away from you, you’ve got to look back and reflect. All of last season, I wanted to get back out and I just couldn’t.”
Even though Marshall’s team was just in shorts on that first day, there was some adrenaline for Thomson as he got back against a live defense in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods.
“That first throw in 7-on-7, I was really juiced up and I threw it really hard,” Thomson said. “The first couple 11-on-11 reps, I was juiced up, too, but I was trying to calm down because it’s happening now and I’m just happy to be here.”
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Cramsey said that one of Thomson’s gifts is to be able to pick things up off of teachings, whether on paper or a board or watching video. That has been crucial in his ability to pick up the offense quickly, despite being only three days into the on-field portion of his Marshall career.
“From his first set of four to his last set of four, he was a different player,” Cramsey said. “He quickly got back to being comfortable playing football. One thing you have to keep in mind with Alex is that he hasn’t lined up and played football in a year. So him coming out and taking a snap here in 11-on-11, I know we’re in shorts, but that’s the first time in a year and you’ve seen him start to grow from the start to end of practice.”
The best example of Thomson’s quick growth came during Saturday’s 11-on-11 portion near the end of practice.
As Thomson lined up against the defense, he saw something he didn’t like and quickly made a change, checking with center Levi Brown and signaling his wide receivers at the line. Thomson followed with a strike to Willie Johnson that went for a score on a throw that showed both precision to get it to Johnson, who had released inside, but also the velocity to drive the ball down-field and beat the safety, who was helping over the top.
It also showed growth because it was a throw Thomson said he missed to Tyre Brady on Friday.
“You make that throw and you think about it like, ’Four months ago, I couldn’t do that,” Thomson said. “You never try to take it for granted, but sometimes you do because you get away from yourself. To be able to do that again is a blessing.”
Thomson said that there has been a level of introspection during his free time as he thinks back to that rehabilitation process and the grind to get back on the field.
In that sense, the past has helped keep his mind focused on his future.
“It’s surreal,” Thomson said. “It’s a blessing to be back out here. No matter what happens with the competition, it’s surreal to be back playing football.”