MORRISTOWN - Bernie Thompson is the ultimate team player.
While honored and humbled by any individual accolade he's received during his career, it's always been about doing anything he can to help his teams win games.
Don't expect the Union Local product to change his approach as he enters his senior season at Waynesburg this fall as a Division III pre-season first-team all-American as selected by USA College Football.
"It means a lot to me (to be recognized), but it's pre-season and that's the key word," Thompson said shortly after finishing a recent workout at Union Local. "I just have to continue to keep putting in the hardwork and hopefully walk away with a successful season in terms of wins."
Thompson admitted that when he found out he'd been recognized on the team he was "kind of shocked."
"I was actually working out and my sister called and told me about it," Thompson said. "I just kind of shrugged it off. I told her it was pretty cool, but I'd worry about it later."
Thompson, who was an all-Presidents Athletic Conference selection last season, earned the nod on the All-American team as a kick returner. He shined in that department last season, averaging 18.4 yards a kick return and 8.7 yards on punt returns.
It's really been as a receiver where Thompson has made his greatest impact at Waynesburg. He's coming off a junior season in which he caught a team-high 71 balls for 869 yards and 4 touchdowns. He led the team in catches and yards.
"I made it as an honorable mention for receiver, which was nice," Thompson said.
Though Thompson, who is a two-year captain, doesn't focus on individual honors as he prepares for the upcoming season, he did admit that he set some goals for himself.
"I had lofty goals for myself coming into college and being an all-American was on the list, so to be a pre-season all-American is flattering and a honor, but I am not going to let that get in my way," Thompson said.
Waynesburg returns 10 starters on offense, which has goals and expectations pretty high on the Western Pennsylvania campus.
"We're going to be a senior-oriented team and we have a lot of leaders," Thompson said. "This is the first year, since I've been in college, where I am anxious to get to camp. I was a little nervous last few years, but I've put in the work, I'm in the greatest shape of my life and I am ready to go."
Thompson and his teammates report to camp on Aug. 13 to begin preparations for their opener on Sept. 6 against Muskingum.
"I am putting all stats aside this year, and my motivation lies with us going 10-0," Thompson said. "This year, I am worried just about winning and making the (NCAA) playoffs. This is the first time where I've been at Waynesburg where it's buzzing with so much excitement for football."
Thompson, who is on track to graduate with a business degree in the spring of 2015, still has trouble believing his senior season is almost here.
"Oh my goodness! (My career) has flown by," Thompson said. "I remember going into my senior year of high school like it was yesterday, and now here I am getting ready for my senior year of college. I am just trying to cherish every single moment. I am also looking forward to being a leader of this team and taking some guys under my wing. And by being a leader, I don't just mean on the field. It means in the classroom, on campus and in the community. I've taken that in stride, trying to be the best person I can be."
As for what lies ahead in his future, Thompson knows some decisions are looming and he's given them some thought. However, thoughts of the Waynesburg season are his biggest focus.
"My options are open," Thompson said. "I know with my degree I'll have several options of things to do, but I also love football. So, coaching is in the back of my mind. I told myself that I was going to be at Waynesburg for four years, play and get my degree."
Along with Thompson on the first team, Josh Tolliver, who was an all-PAC pick last season, was named honorable mention all-American.