Published August 30. 2013 4:00AM
New London - Blake Thompson, for two years a member of the football and baseball teams at the Coast Guard Academy, has been one of the least demonstrative members of both, although sometimes not by his own choosing.
"We just graduated 14 seniors," baseball coach C.C. Grant said. "They were loud and obnoxious sometimes. For the last two years that Blake's been here, they've been dominant.
"He's a really quiet kid; there's a lot of thought going on in his mind. You don't find out about him until you scratch the surface a little bit."
Now, however, he's gone from being Blake Thompson, quiet kid, to Blake Thompson, starting quarterback.
Thompson, a wide receiver the last two seasons, was the quarterback of his high school team in Liberty Hill, Texas, and was called upon this year to reprise that role.
"When you're the quarterback you have this thing," football coach Bill George said before practice Thursday. "Not a bad, arrogant thing. But he's acting like he's the starting quarterback in terms of leadership on the field. He's out there in the limelight."
Thompson replaces Jon Resch, who set single-season and career records in just about every passing category, including 2,514 yards and 23 touchdowns last year.
Thompson, however, brings a different perspective.
"Not even close," said Thompson, asked to compare his normal style to Resch's. "In high school we ran the Wing-T, triple-option. ... There was a little bit of passing."
Thompson, who wanted a college where he could play baseball and football, was visited at his high school by Grant, who is also the football team's defensive coordinator. In addition, he wanted a spot where he could have the chance to learn to fly helicopters.
"Helping people, saving people, is huge to me," Thompson said.
He headed east, where the weather is a little more palatable when two-a-day practices begin at the start of football season than it is in Texas, but less so at the beginning of the baseball season when the icy cold wind whips off the Thames River onto Nitchman Field.
Thompson, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, arrived at Coast Guard not only with great depth ahead of him in baseball, but at the quarterback position.
In 2011, the football team had Resch, as well as then-starter Jarrod Owens.
Thompson was moved to receiver, something he didn't mind as a freshman because there was "a lot less thinking." He had five catches for 50 yards his first year, as well as 10 kick returns for 184 yards.
Last year, he played in just four games, dislocating his shoulder early in the season, but made 13 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball four times for 19 yards.
George approached him in January about switching back to quarterback and Thompson embraced the challenge. George called him one of the hardest working college quarterbacks in the offseason he's seen in his 30-year career.
"He came into my office and said, 'We've got to get this throwing net.' It was six months before we even had our budget. ... He worked on mechanics, steps, pivots everything," George said. "He's a tremendous athlete."
The Bears will scrimmage at Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday before opening the season Sept. 7 at St. Lawrence.
Thompson will be backed up by sophomores Troy Nunes (Montville H.S. graduate) and Drew Londo, as well as freshman Derek Victory. The Bears, 5-4 last season, return top receiver Collis Brown (53 catches), in addition to top running backs Jake Wawrzyniak and Tyler Hames.
"It helped me a lot having played receiver to know what was going on," Thompson said of switching positions. "It's a big step, but coach (Ray) LaForte (offensive coordinator) made it pretty easy. At first it was a little challenging keeping track of my reads. I remember being a receiver and saying, 'Hey, man, why didn't you see me open?'
"Every day gets a little easier. I'm looking forward to the scrimmage and going against someone who doesn't know what's coming. On our defense, everyone knows."