Former Rider QB Kemp catches on as Wesley wideout

Though former Caesar Rodney quarterback Alex Kemp is new to the wide receiver position, Wesley’s coaches think they might have found something in the Riders product. (Delaware State News file photo)

Though former Caesar Rodney quarterback Alex Kemp is new to the wide receiver position, Wesley’s coaches think they might have found something in the Riders product. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — Chip Knapp remembers the moment the lightbulb went on.

Alex Kemp was just running a basic play in a Wesley College preseason scrimmage last year.

But when the freshman quarterback hit the sidelines, he simply sprinted away from most of the defenders.

“It was like, ‘Whoa, look what we’ve got there,’” said Knapp, the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator.

The problem was that Kemp — the Caesar Rodney High grad — was stuck behind Joe Callahan, Wesley’s All-American-candidate QB.

Knapp and the Wolverines, though, knew they had to get Kemp on the field. That’s how the redshirt freshman ended up as a receiver in spring practice.

Now, despite being so new to the position, Wesley thinks they might have found something in their fledgling wideout.

“He’s been doing a great job,” said Knapp. “He’s taken to it like he’s a natural.

“Every year we find a playmaker at receiver and he’s a candidate to be that guy — a Steve Kodoussou, Larry Beavers-type guy — this year. It should be fun.”

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Kemp admits he’s still a quarterback at heart. But he also says he enjoys being a receiver.

Kemp said he actually likes having contact. Quarterbacks, of course, are not used to taking any hits in practice.

That was a big — but welcome — change when Kemp became a receiver.

“As soon as the defense found out I was going from quarterback to wide receiver, they loved it,” said Kemp. “Last year in practices I would talk so much to them just to get them pumped up and ready to go. But they knew they couldn’t hit me.

“But ever since they found out they could hit me now, it’s just been on, every day. They’re just after me. It’s great.”

Kemp has depended on the Wolverines’ more experienced receivers to teach him how to play the position. He’s worked a lot with a group that includes Bryce Shade, Xavier Allen, James Okike and Chris Askew.

Allen, the Dover High grad, said Kemp has already come a long way.

“I always knew he could do something like that because he’s just an amazing athlete,” said Allen. “Him switching positions, being able to catch the ball the way he does is just natural.

“We were rivals in high school and now I’m teaching him the offense, it’s fun.”

“He’s going to be a weapon for us,” said Callahan, the redshirt senior quarterback. “He gets the quarterback progressions and he’s never complaining that he’s open on every play because he knows what that’s like. He’s really doing great this camp.”

Even Kemp says he didn’t know how fast he was. He was surprised when he was clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Kemp figures to be a busy man this fall. Along with playing receiver, he’s also working on being a punt/kick returner, a holder on place kicks and a punter.

It remains to be seen which of those positions Kemp will actually play in a game. But he says he likes the challenge.

“You’re out there running routes and blocking for your teammates, it’s just great,” said Kemp. “I definitely like it. It’s my first year I ever played it and I’m catching on really well.

“I like that I get the ball,” he added. “I like running down field, catching passes. I get to be more physical.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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