Spotlight 2016: OL Thomas Lopez

Rutgers camp was the first test for Middletown South (N.J.) 2016 offensive lineman Thomas Lopez. Gaining exposure with multiple college camps through the summer, Lopez discussed his camp experience in Piscataway.

At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds going into his sophomore year of high school, Middletown South (N.J) offensive lineman Thomas Lopez jumped at the chance for three days with a Big Ten coaching staff.

A full camper at Rutgers last week, Lopez raved about his experiences on campus.

"It was a great experience overall," Lopez said. "It's not just the football facilities. It was just being there in that environment. It was good to be a part of that.

"It was a new experience. I'd never been away like that before. I thought it was great to be with roommates and go through the whole thing. I learned a lot."

Lopez was one of the biggest linemen at the camp and worked closely with position coach Damian Wroblewsi and learned a lot from the second-year Rutgers assistant.

"He was a great guy," Lopez said. "He really made it a great time. I polished a lot my techniques and learned a lot from him."

A rising sophomore at Middletown South, Lopez said he worked out in front of Rutgers assistant Joe Rossi during the spring evaluation period.

"I'm really impressed with Rutgers," Lopez said. "I don't have like the favorite thing or a favorite part of camp. I just really like the school as a whole and everything there."

Lopez received visits from American Athletic Conference programs Tulane and Connecticut this spring. His next stop is a lineman camp at Lehigh, looking to explore as many options as possible. Georgia and Penn State also visited and are showing interest, he said.

"I'm ecstatic about it," Lopez said. "My family has never been around this stuff before, so it's exciting for me. I'm just kind of starting it now, but I'm really grateful for it."

Lopez trains in the same place as four-star Notre Dame commit Quenton Nelson and comes from the same high school as NFL running back Knowshon Moreno.

Watching older athletes in his area go through the process, Lopez plans to put education first when seeking out college opportunities.

"Academics are first for me absolutely," Lopez said. "… I'm thinking about the next 40 years. I want college to take care of me academics wise. Football comes second and it's very important to me, but academics come first."

Lopez projects to start on the Middletown South offensive line this season and expects to keep growing. The Eagles finished 8-4 in 2012.

"My footwork has definitely come a long way and I used to play basketball, so that's definitely helping me in certain areas," Lopez said. "I use my power pretty well and I'm really just working to get better and stronger this summer."

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