USU football: Senior placekicker uses lessons learned on the football field as template for success

By Doug Hoffman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24 2013 8:42 p.m. MDT

Wisconsin's Devin Smith (10) reacts after Utah State kicker Josh Thompson (19) missed a field goal attempt in the final seconds of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin won 16-14. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Morry Gash, AP

LOGAN – One fall night in 2008, Josh Thompson’s life changed for good. The evening had been spent playing in the Utah 3A All-Star football game, representing Logan High School. He had a standout game and was out at dinner with his family to celebrate. His phone rang with an offer to play collegiate football.

Former Utah State head coach Gary Andersen had watched Thompson play in the game and was pleased with what he saw. Within a couple hours of the final buzzer, he decided to offer the placekicker a walk-on spot on his team.

Having originally signed with Snow College, Thompson was ecstatic to change his plans, stay close to home and play Division I football.

“I was born and raised in Logan, so I was excited to play for my home town,” Thompson said. “It means a lot being from Logan High School. You want to represent not just your high school but also Cache Valley. To show off our talents at the Division I level is very satisfying. It’s cool to be a part of that and represent the community.”

Being a local kid, Thompson has seen it all through Utah State football. He had been a fan in the stands of Romney Stadium through the ups and downs the program had through the 1990s.

Now as a senior and experienced insider of the USU program, he has seen firsthand the change the team has gone through.

“I went through all the pain of the tough seasons at Utah State as a kid,” Thompson said. “It’s been cool to see how the program has changed from when I was a little kid to now as a senior.”

Now at the end of his career, he is grateful for the growth he has been a part of and the impact this class has had on the program.

“We were disappointed those first two seasons, but after that Hawai’i game in 2011, to winning last year’s bowl game, that win was the best moment of my time here,” Thompson said. “Not many kids in their college careers can say they went from one of the lowest ranked programs in the country to a top-25 program.”

Joining Thompson on the field this year is his younger brother, Jake. The two are just far enough apart in age that they have never had the chance to play on the same team.

“We’ve never been on a team together since we’re four years apart. We never really got to play together anywhere,” Thompson said. “Being able to enjoy my senior season with him has been fun. I’m excited to see him have a great career as an Aggie.”

While several Aggie football players have gotten married during their time on the team, Thompson has spent most of his career trying to balance football and school, along with a marriage. He and his wife, Alysha, got married in June 2011 and have spent the subsequent years figuring out how to make everything work.

“Our schedules never have an open time to actually see each other. It’s been hard, but it’s something we’ve been able to handle,” Thompson said. “The things we’re going through now are going to be good for us later in life.”

Thompson said the effort they’ve put into these two years has been crucial. For some, the craziness of school and sports and life would be too much to handle, but these two have found the positive sides of it and made it work.

“We’ve learned how to take care of each other, and it’s strengthened our marriage,” Thompson said. “You’d think it would have a negative effect, but it’s been good for us.”

As the lone senior among the Aggie kickers, Thompson hopes to use his experience as a way to lead the group to succeed.

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