The years dwindled to months, then days and weeks, and now Marcus Thompson’s high school days are numbered to a precious few.
The soon-to-be Rutgers linebacker graduates from Boyd Anderson High (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) on June 6, and the next day will board a plane for New Jersey to begin his transition to college.
“Really, I feel excited just to come up there to a new environment,’’ the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Thompson said. “I’m looking forward to making a change. It’s one of the reasons I’m going to Rutgers. It’s a new environment. It’s something different and it’s going to be a new experience for me.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, basically since my freshman year. I feel very excited, and I can’t wait for everything to just play out. I’ve got it all in my mind. I’m just waiting to act it out.’’
Looking back at the freshman year, though, Thompson knew about Rutgers, but acknowledged “I never really thought I would be going to Rutgers.’’
Of course, that was before Rutgers reeled off four straight bowl wins and moved into the consciousness of the nation.
Thompson, who also played running back in high school, is Scout.com’s 78th-ranked outside linebacker, and that is where he will fit in coming to Rutgers.
After making 90 tackles, including nine sacks, as a senior, he will get a look at the strong-side and weak-side linebacker positions with the Scarlet Knights. With Manny Abreu positioned to be the starting strong-side linebacker and Antonio Lowery looking like the answer on the weak side, Thompson’s best bet for playing time in 2010 could come in a backup role, or on special teams.
However, Thompson is making sure his body is ready when he steps on campus so he can compete for playing time immediately.
“I’ve been training and doing some running and studying for my placement test,’’ Thompson said. “Basically, that’s it. Just trying to work out and prepare for this challenge I’m about to start.’’
Thompson speaks with members of the coaching staff, and received workout advice from strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler.
“The parts of my body that I’ve been primarily working out are my neck and my chest area,’’ Thompson said. “I’ve been doing a lot of squats and lunges. I’ve been doing a lot of power cleans.’’
The bench presses builds strength to push off blockers, and the lunges, squats and clean lifts help with a player’s explosion.
“I know what Rutgers does because I talked to (Butler), and he told me they do a lot of cleans and bench presses and squats,’’ Thompson said. “That’s really what I’ve been trying to attack. I’m trying to be ahead, basically.’’
Thompson tinkered with the idea of enrolling in January, but he could get everything together academically to make it happen.
Now, the only issue is lack of celebration time with friends and family after he graduates.
“I don’t get any time to bask in the glory of graduation,’’ Thompson said before laughing. “I wanted to have a little time to spend with my friends. I don’t know. I’m going to have to work it out somehow.’’