Former Frog finding success off the field
The endless stream of clips seemed to be playing on a loop.
Shot after shot of NFL Draft prospects picking out socks, matching suits and prepping for Thursday night’s first round from the comfort of their New York City hotel rooms Wednesday night dominated ESPN’s coverage of the event Thursday afternoon.
Spencer Thompson spent Wednesday night in a hotel room, too. And, like the 32 players drafted Thursday night, Thompson’s professional career officially began last week.
But Thompson, a former TCU offensive guard, wasn’t in New York City and he won’t be playing football next fall.
Instead, he’ll be working for Edward Jones as a financial advisor, a job he started April 23 at the company’s headquarters in St. Louis, where he went through training all last week.
Thompson, who’s getting married next month and will be based out of Fort Worth, was a three-time letterman for the Frogs, starting three games in 2010 and appearing in all 13 last fall.
Thompson’s success, though, wasn’t limited to the field. If anything, it was exceeded by what he did in the classroom.
The Plainview native earned his master’s in December, receiving a liberal arts degree at a ceremony at the team’s hotel in San Diego the day before TCU won the Poinsettia Bowl. Thompson, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in December of 2010, was one of only three players in the country to play his final game with his master’s degree in hand.
Thompson came to TCU in the spring of 2007, graduating high school a semester early and enrolling in 15 hours of courses, a class load he’d repeat every semester. In addition to that, Thompson took three hours each May and classes in June and July, going to school year-round before spending the last two summers working at internships.
Thompson said doing what he did academically isn’t as impossible as it might seem for student athletes.
“Everybody has the capability to do it,” Thompson said. “I don’t think it was anything superhuman what I did, but I also don’t think a lot of guys would care to do it.”
And that’s okay, he said.
“I don’t think it’s very common,” he said. “But I don’t know if it should be. Now that it’s all over, I’m glad I just did it. But I think it’s important that athletes get a little bit of free time.”
For Thompson, his accelerated academic track was mainly a product of convenience.
“We’ve got to be up here to work out anyways,” Thompson said. “It’s not a bad thing to be going to one class every day for three hours a day for three weeks and getting that out of the way. I found it kind of pleasant.”
But while the speed of Thompson’s success was a rarity, his success wasn’t.
All 19 of last year’s seniors have already graduated, will get their degree next month or are on track to do so by next fall. Cornerback Greg McCoy and safety Johnny Fobbs both played as graduate students last season. And, for the fourth straight year, the program was honored by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating at least 75 percent of its entering freshmen since 2004.
Head coach Gary Patterson preaches academics, but he backs it up, too, Thompson said.
“At so many other schools, the reason the coach may be so well-liked is because he doesn’t get on [players] for not going to class,” Thompson said. “Whereas, Patterson, while he may not make any friends doing it, he will make sure guys are going to class, doing their work.”
As for his career, Thompson’s happy where he is. He admitted he’ll miss the game but is content with where it’s gotten him.
“Football has really always been an awesome vehicle to get a great education and have a really great time playing college football,” Thompson said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I like to think I was a scrappy, feisty little guy out there, but for me, an opportunity came up with Edward Jones.”
Thompson’s five years at TCU were fun, he said. Now, it’s time to move on.
“I had a great time playing college football,” Thompson said. “That was enough for me.”
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