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Kendal Thompson And Bryce Harper Share Close Friendship With Baseball Bond

Posted Sep 2, 2016

The Redskins' undrafted free agent wide receiver has held a strong friendship with Bryce Harper since middle school.

A day before roster cuts are due, wide receiver Kendal Thompson will wait patiently to find out about his future with the Redskins. Regardless of what happens, whether he is offered a spot on the practice squad or looks to find another team to latch on to, he’ll still have the support of Bryce Harper.

“That’s my dude,” Thompson said of the Nationals’ star outfielder, and not just because he’s currently playing with another professional team in Washington, D.C.

For three years, starting when he was just 12 years old, Thompson and Harper were teammates for the Oklahoma Elite, a travel ball team that toured around the state at various high-level tournaments. Thompson grew up in Oklahoma City, so for most of the tournaments he had no issues getting to the games. Harper, however, would fly in on the weekends from Las Vegas, his hometown.

“We’d play on back to back weekends, we’d stay at our coach’s house,” Thompson said. “With him being in Vegas, my dad coached another team, and so we’d stay and travel, and share the same hotel room. We were kind of on the road together and we just got close that way.”

Thompson played centerfield while Harper usually pitched or caught.

“I had some nice plays for him back in the day, you can ask him about that,” Thompson laughed.

When Thompson became a freshman in high school, he said he was at a cross roads about what sport to play. He sat down with his dad and they both agreed that with his arm mechanics, playing football would be his best route.

Harper, who played linebacker a little bit around the same time, would eventually stick with baseball (a wise choice), but Thompson remembers when the two engaged in some weekend shenanigans with friends doing some open-field tackling drills.

“[We were] at a teammate’s place,” Thompson said. “On the weekends we’d mess around. Me and him went at it one time doing that, so he’s actually a decent football player, too, I believe him. He’s athletic, so I guess he played outside backer. He had never seen me play football, so he finally gave me some props football-wise after that day.”

Their friendship has remained just as much as their careers have pulled them apart.

Before Thompson transferred to Utah, and before he switched to wide receiver, Harper tweeted that Oklahoma start Thompson at quarterback in the middle of the 2013 season. When Thompson made a one-handed grab for a touchdown against the Jets two weeks ago, Harper immediately congratulated him with another tweet.

Because of his hectic football schedule, Thompson had never seen Harper play with the Nationals and finally got the chance last weekend.  

“We keep in touch, talk all the time,” Thompson said. “I was actually going to be in his wedding. Then I end up out here and it’s just kind of a coincidental deal.”

Thompson hopes it can be that way at least for a little while longer.