HUNTINGTON — Marshall’s newest quarterback wouldn’t brag on his abilities, which could become well-refined under a new offensive coordinator.
To large extent, Wagner graduate transfer Alex Thomson says, the QB is at the mercy of his teammates.
“I’ve got to say a quarterback is what he’s got around him,” Thomson said Wednesday after signing with the Thundering Herd. “A lot of guys can throw the football, but they don’t have the right guys around him. They’re not going to be able to showcase that talent.”
When Herd coaches put a sudden full-court press on Thomson, he looked around the Herd depth chart and saw nine starters due to return. He saw an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks in 13 games.
He saw a team suddenly seeking a potential NFL talent behind center.
He’s all in.
“I thought it was my best fit among the schools that were recruiting me,” he said. “They got a lot of guys returning on offense, and on defense, and they’re just ready to win right now.”
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound native of Keyport, New Jersey, walked on punting after playing in a wing-T offense in high school, and had to prove himself from scratch. In his redshirt sophomore year of 2016, he completed 184 of 323 passes for 2,436 yards and 16 touchdowns versus only five interceptions.
His 2017 season was marred by a separated AC joint in his shoulder, suffered in the Seahawks’ second game. He expects to be 100 percent by mid-March.
There is no question he can throw, and he has received expert assistance from somebody who could in his day — former Morehead State and New York Giants star Phil Simms. Simms is a friend with Wagner’s longtime athletic director and former football coach, Walt Hameline.
“I started throwing with him two or three times a week,” Thomson said. “It was an improvement from how I threw the football in 2016. He didn’t teach me a different way to throw, but the right way to throw a football. Like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, that’s how he teaches you to throw a football.”
At his national signing day press conference, MU coach Doc Holliday detailed the process of recruiting Thomson, which started soon after the Herd was broadsided by Chase Litton’s declaration for the NFL draft.
“The staff jumped into that thing with Alex head-first,” Holliday said. “Didn’t even have Tim [Cramsey, new offensive coordinator] on campus at the time; we’d just hired him and we were doing the background checks that you have to do.
“Started out by sending [offensive line coach] Alex Mirabal up there that first week we had a contact period. Second week, [recruiting coordinator] Mike Treier went up and met Tim up there, got him up there. Third week, myself, Tim and Treier all went into see him.
“He’s a great kid, he’s got all the intangibles.”
Cramsey’s track record with quarterbacks is attractive. He spent last year at Sam Houston, tutoring Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe. (The Payton Award goes to the top Football Championship Subdivision offensive player.)
“I think anytime you’ve got a track record with quarterbacks that Tim has had over the years, it helps,” Holliday said. “He’s done a great job wherever he’s been, developing quarterbacks, and putting up numbers.”
On top of all that, Thomson could complete for All-Academic Team honors. Sporting a 3.55 grade-point average, he will earn his finance degree at Wagner this spring.
Holliday announced a 24-man class, which included those who signed in December.
Some features of the group:
n A four-star recruit: 6-2, 179-pound wide receiver Jaquan Webb is rated four stars by ESPN.com, and the Oxford, Mississippi, star has the measurable to back it up — most impressive, a 10.62-second time in the 100 meters. His bio lists offers from Alabama, Louisville, Mississippi, Oregon State and three Conference USA rivals.
n Junior-college help: Wide receiver Artie Henry III is a Sarasota, Florida, native who comes from San Diego Mesa College, where he averaged 20 yards per catch and returned kicks. Other jucos are linebacker Dallas Martin and kicker Justin Rohrwasser.
n Speaking of that kicker: Rohrwasser comes from Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York, but kicked in 2015 and 2016 at Rhode Island. He made 15 of 20 field goals and 39 of 40 extra points.
n Georgia pipeline still loaded: 6-foot wide receiver Tyquavious Terrell of Leesburg, Georgia, was named first-team all-state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to his bio, the Lee County High grad runs a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, has run the 100 meters in 10.8 and bench presses 315 pounds.
Also signing from the Peach State is running back Jaylynn Sykes, who helped Rome to an undefeated season and a Class 5A state title. He had at least 12 offers from “Power 5” schools.
Defensive lineman Koby Cumberlander, 6-2 and 240 pounds, had 16 sacks in his senior season at Roswell High. He is already enrolled at MU.
n Kentucky in the trenches: With late commitment Arak McDuffie signing, the Herd nabbed five Bluegrass State men in the trenches: Ethan Bingham, Zack Ferris, Trey Livingood and Dalton Tucker on offense, McDuffie on defense.
n Florida rules again: Eight signees come from the ever-growing Sunshine State. The Tampa Bay area leads the parade this time with five, with one from Orlando, one from south Florida and one from Fort Myers.
Henry and wide receiver Talik Keaton both played for Sarasota’s Booker High School.
And finally …
n Doc likes this split-signing-day thing: Or maybe he still doesn’t — the Dec. 20 early signing day interfered with the Herd’s bowl game, among other things — but he thinks it went well.
“I think we handled it exactly the way it should be handled,” Holliday said. “A lot of people filled up that first signing day; there were tremendous players out there that second [day]. We got some really good players that fell to us in January. We’re going to continue to sign guys early on we really like, but we've got continue to hold a lot of scholarships.”
Marshall signing class
|*Ethan Bingham||OL||6-6, 300||Paintsville, Ky. (Johnson Central HS)|
|*Jacob Cassidy||TE||6-3, 240||Huntington, W.Va. (Spring Valley HS)|
|*Jermane Cross||DL||6-5, 280||New Port Richey, Fla. (J.W. Mitchell HS)|
|*Koby Cumberlander||DL||6-2, 240||Roswell, Ga. (Roswell HS)|
|*Zack Ferris||OL||6-5, 311||Somerset, Ky. (Pulaski County HS)|
|*Trey Livingood||OL||6-3, 300||Berea, Ky. (Madison Southern HS)|
|*Caleb Mcmillan||WR||6-3, 195||Orlando, Fla. (Bishop Moore HS)|
|*Owen Porter||DL||6-2, 227||Huntington, W.Va. (Spring Valley HS)|
|*Justin Rohrwasser||K||6-3, 209||Clifton Park, N.Y. (Erie CC)|
|*Dalton Tucker||OL||6-6, 295||Paris, Ky. (Bourbon County HS)|
|Markeis Colvin||DB||6-0, 205||Seffner, Fla. (Armwood HS)|
|Sharrod Frazier||LB||6-0, 190||Brunswick, Ga. (Brunswick HS)|
|Steven Gilmore Jr.||DB||5-11, 160||Rock Hill, S.C. (South Pointe HS)|
|Corey Grammage||WR||6-4, 190||Delray Beach, Fla. (Atlantic Community HS)|
|Artie Henry III||WR||6-1, 185||Sarasota, Fla. (San Diego Mesa College)|
|Bakari Johnson||LB||6-1, 207||Fort Myers, Fla. (Dunbar HS)|
|Talik Keaton||WR||6-1, 185||Sarasota, Fla. (Booker HS)|
|Patrick Keenan||DL||6-6, 210||Tampa, Fla. (Blake HS)|
|Dallas Martin||LB||6-2, 230||Pleasanton, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)|
|Arak McDuffie||DL||6-5, 240||Louisville, Ky. (Trinity HS)|
|Jalynn Sikes||RB||5-11, 195||Rome, Ga. (Rome HS)|
|Tyquavious Terrell||WR||6-0, 190||Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County HS)|
|Alex Thomson||QB||6-5, 225||Keyport, N.J. (Wagner College)|
|Jaquan Webb||WR||6-2, 179||Oxford, Miss. (Oxford HS)|