HUNTINGTON — Marshall wide receiver Broc Thompson led a well-balanced Thundering Herd receiving attack in week one.
Thompson, a sophomore from Indianapolis, caught five passes for 67 yards while leading a passing attack that featured 13 different receivers.
That Thompson led the team should be no surprise.
His chemistry with quarterback Grant Wells supersedes that of anyone else in Marshall’s receiver room because when Thompson arrived, he and Wells were roommates going through the grind of college football together.
That also meant Thompson knew exactly what Wells brought to the table in his first start as the Herd’s quarterback.
“He didn’t shock me, but he shocked a lot of people that didn’t know his abilities,” Thompson said. “I’ve always had trust in Grant and believed in Grant because we came in together. He was my roommate when I first got here at Marshall.”
Fittingly, Wells’ first completion as Marshall’s quarterback went to Thompson — a screen pass that went for 17 yards after a nice move by Thompson to avoid a defender.
“That’s one guy that I knew, coming into this season, that was going to be my best friend on the field,” Wells said. “I knew me and him had to be on the same page every week. He and I have worked really hard to get on the same page mentally and on the field.”
Just as Thompson became a trusted source in the game, it has been the same in practice as well with the two linking up consistently during live repetitions against the top defense. When a play breaks down and Wells has to improvise, he knows that Thompson’s mindset and his are aligned, which helps them find each other in scramble situations.
“I think it plays a lot — just talking, watching film together, going over schemes and defenses and where he wants me to be at certain times,” Thompson said. “If he rolls out of the pocket and I have a certain route, he wants me to break it off and sit in this certain area ... just find an open area. I think that plays a big part in our success and our team’s success.”
Thompson said getting to know the Herd’s new quarterback has been fun with Wells possessing an outgoing, funny nature about him that not everyone sees behind the mask.
“When we used to live together, we’d watch ‘The Office’ or funny shows together and have a good time,” Thompson said. “Grant is really — I don’t know what the public view of him is — but he’s actually really funny and goofy. He’s not an uptight guy. He’s actually really relaxed.”
Wells added “Game of Thrones” to the list of shows they watched, saying, “That’s one thing we really bonded [over]. He has great taste in shows.”
While television offered a fun reprieve from the demands of college football to bond over, there was another aspect in which the quarterback-receiver duo bonded.
Earlier this summer, Thompson’s brother, Cade, was diagnosed with cancer, which hit the Thompson family and the Marshall family hard.
Wells spoke of his subsequent talks with Thompson, saying that Thompson’s season takes on greater meaning because he’s playing for Cade, which is why he switched his jersey to No. 13.
“He’s one of the guys that this season means a little bit more to with everything going on, plus what’s going on in his life,” Wells said.
Wells said the situation brought them closer as he sent Thompson texts to check on him and make sure he’s alright while seeing if there’s anything he could do.
“I know I’m not the only one doing that,” Wells said. “I know the entire offense is there for him whenever he needs it. That’s one thing we take really seriously.”
As Marshall looks ahead to its game against No. 23 Appalachian State, Wells knows that he’s in only his second game and the Mountaineers will bring heat at him. However, Wells also knows that Thompson has his back — as he’s done since arrival at Marshall.
It’s a connection they look to continue in Marshall’s biggest non-conference game of the season on Saturday.