Wesley notebook: Kemp’s speed major weapon for Wolverines

Alex Kemp of Wesley bursts past RPI defender Oliver Kaija in the Division III NCAA first round playoffs Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — For as long as Alex Kemp can remember, people have told him he was fast.

That goes back to his grade school days at Star Hill Elementary and Allen Frear.

It’s just that, as a Wing-T quarterback at Caesar Rodney High, Kemp never got out in the open field much.

Now at Wesley College, even he didn’t really think of himself as all that fast.

“I never really knew the speed that I had,” said Kemp. “I didn’t really run track. Now everybody always comes up to me and tells me how fast I am.
“I’m just like, ‘Really?’ I don’t feel that way. I just can watch it.”

Kemp put on a pretty impressive display of his speed last Saturday when Wesley rallied for a 45-27 victory over RPI in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs.

Alex Kemp

The junior receiver had 11 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown with three carries for 90 yards and a TD in the contest. The performance earned Kemp Offensive Player of the Week honors from the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

Wesley coach Mike Drass, whose No. 13 Wolverines (10-1) travel to 10th-ranked Brockport State (11-0) on Saturday at noon in a second-round playoff game, said it was fun watching Kemp on the field.

Kemp capped off his big day by scampering 61 yards for a TD on a reverse with 4:41 remaining.

“I was talking to my dad after the game,” said Drass. “He said, ‘I haven’t seen that type of acceleration since (former star receiver) Larry Beavers.’ Larry was so different than everyone else.

“You watch that film. He (Kemp) is there, then he’s gone. That play was amazing.”

What really makes Kemp dangerous, though, is that Wesley has another big-play receiver in James Okike. With Okike back in the lineup this fall, plus the emergence of running back E.J. Lee, defenses often find themselves in trouble if they try to focus on any one player.

Okike has 56 receptions for 868 yards and nine touchdowns while Kemp also has 56 catches for 840 yards and five TDs.

“When one of them gets hot, life is pretty good — not just for that guy but for the other guy, too,” said Drass. “They know that all of them are capable.

“We’ve had teams here where you were dependant on someone. If they didn’t do it, you were in trouble. I think we’re fortunate that we have some weapons.”

“Teams have to respect both of us, especially with E.J. in the backfield,” said Kemp. “You give him one step and he’s gone. Anybody can make any play at any time.”

One of the two wideouts has had at least 90 yards receiving in all but three games this season. And in those three sub-90-yard games, Lee has run for a combined 414 yards.

With Kemp third in the Wesley record books with 152 receptions and fourth in receiving yards with 2,316, it’s easy to forget that he never really played receiver until three years ago. And while his speed is clearly a big asset, the 5-foot-11, 165-pounder has also learned a great deal about playing the position.

“You get the feel of the position and you can see a lot of different things,” said Kemp. “You can help the quarterback out with making calls. Having that knowledge of having been at the quarterback spot, I can see what the defense is doing.

“I can see that I’m continually growing and getting better at the position. I like it.”


Wesley and Brockport are no strangers to each other.

The two played other six times between 2001-07, including when they were both members of the now-defunct Atlantic Central Football Conference.

While the two teams split the six meetings, Brockport hung an infamous 47-0 loss on the Wolverines in 2005. Wesley was 7-0 going into that matchup and didn’t lose again until it reached the Division III national semifinals.

“It’s a new opponent for us, but coaching staff-wise, we’re very familiar with where we’re going,” said Drass. “It wasn’t hard getting hotels or understanding what we were going to do. I played there when I was in college.”

The Golden Eagles are in the NCAA Division III playoffs for the first time since 2003.

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