WALLINGFORD >> Despite missing most of his high school career due to injury, Jason Thompson’s dream can still be fulfilled.
On Aug. 1, Thompson will report to UConn, where he received preferred walk-on status to join the football team.
Thompson, who graduated from Shelton High on Monday, will have to earn his spot on the travel squad. Thompson can eventually be rewarded with a scholarship depending on how well he performs.
But just being on the team at the start of fall camp is the first step towards Thompson’s goal.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Thompson said before a recent practice for the Super 100 All-Star Classic. “To be injured my sophomore and junior year, and to still have a shot to play my dream, Division I football, is unbelievable. I can’t wait to get up there and make the most of my opportunity.”
“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said. “It was a good thing for him to get into camp early. He’ll get treated like a scholarship player. Hopefully he’ll do well, move up the depth chart, and get a chance to get a scholarship.”
Thompson dislocated his left shoulder four games into his sophomore season, and then dislocated the other shoulder in the first quarter of the season opener his junior year. Thompson underwent surgery twice, but he recovered and enjoyed a successful senior campaign last fall. Injuries impacted his stock with potential recruiters.
“It affected how colleges looked at me, how much attention I got,” Thompson said.
Thompson was recruited by several “smaller schools” according to Roy, but Thompson was intent on living his dream.
“His goal growing up was to play Division I football,” Roy said. “He wants to give it a shot. I always tell them that you only get one shot in life. He’s the type of kid that I think can make it.”
Before reporting to UConn, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Thompson will play for Team Nutmeg against Team Constitution in the Classic, which is scheduled to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Rentschler Field.
Thompson is one of three Nutmeg running backs expected to see significant action.
“I think he’s poised for a great game,” Nutmeg coach John Ferrazzi said. “He’s shown no sign of being slowed from prior injuries. He’s been tough running the football, physical in between tackles. He has great vision. He can see a crease and put his foot in the ground and hit it.”
As a senior, Thompson rushed 157 times for 1,142 yards and 11 touchdowns, and caught 41 passes for 557 yards and four scores, while leading the Gaels to a 7-4 record.
“He comes from a great program at Shelton, so he’s football savvy,” Ferrazzi said. “He picked up on everything so easy. He’s a great runner, but he can also catch the ball out of the backfield.”
Thompson is looking forward to competing against some of the state’s best players. He’s also hoping for a memorable finish to his high school football career.
“It’s kind of my showcase game,” Thompson said. “I feel like I’ve been a little bit underrated throughout the season. This is just my chance to come out and show them what I’ve got.”