Bernie Thompson has spent much of his life hearing people tell him that he's too small or not big enough. Or he'd hear things such as 'if he was a few inches taller, he could play for any school in America.'
Thompson - the Union Local product - looks at those compliments because the one thing that's true about the current Waynesburg wide receiver is he can play.
And despite his diminutive, 5-8, frame, Thompson just makes plays with regularity and has helped Waynesburg to three quality seasons since he stepped foot on campus.
Photo Courtesy/WAYNESBURG UNIVERSITY
UNION LOCAL product Bernie Thompson has enjoyed a brilliant career thus far at Waynesburg. He caught 71 passes for 869 yards this season and earned first team all-conference as a kick returner.
"There were a lot of people who never dreamed I'd be in the position that I am today," Thompson said just a few weeks after wrapping up a 7-3 season and earning first-team all President Athletic Conference honors. "I can't control my height, but I can control how hard I work and my work ethic."
Thompson really doesn't need to worry about anyone's opinion because he's earned his way to an every-down role at Waynesburg as one of its top receivers and returners.
During the season, Thompson caught a team-high 71 passes for 869 yards and four touchdowns. As a kick returner, he brought back 16 for 294 yards and he also returned 23 punts for 201 yards.
"I am my own worst critic," Thompson explained. "I am still working to be more consistent. I want to continue to prove to my teammates and coaches that I'm reliable and can be the go-to-guy."
Thompson is preparing for his senior season, but he's going to need some time to heal. He's nursing an elbow, which will need a MRI and sprained MCL. He was banged up during the season, but said he "never missed a practice."
"I want to take it to a new level next season," Thompson said. "I want to turn 20 yard gains into 70 yard gains. I know I can compete. I want to be the best receiver in the conference."
A lot of players consider or try to go the Division III rout, but many, for one reason or another, don't always last.
Thompson had his mind made up when he committed to Waynesburg that he was going to stick it out.
"I main advice for kids considering it is don't quit or give up," Thompson said. "Put your whole heart into it and go about it the right way and it'll pay off. Give it your all and it'll be worth it. I am not all about glamour or stats, but I've worked hard and earned what I've got."
Though Thompson wouldn't trade his decision to attend Waynesburg for anything, he'd be lying if he didn't admit that playing Division I - and more specifically for Ohio State - wasn't his dream.
"I know I am not going to be playing in the NFL or anything, but God put me on this Earth for a reason," Thompson said. "I'm not the fastest or the biggest, but if I can be a good example for kids, on and off the field, in the area and do things the right way, it's all worth it to me."
If football wasn't enough, Thompson also had an impressive summer playing in the OVBL.
Thompson, who will wrap up finals this week and then be home for Christmas, is on track to graduate with a degree in business management in the spring of 2015.
"I am kind of ahead of the game because I could have finished up after football, but I decided to go until the spring semester," Thompson said.