Hunter Thomsen gave up playing safety at Manatee High (Bradenton, Fla.) to be lead guitarist for the pop rock band We the Kings, but he’s still a fan of the Hurricanes, the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Sports Super 25 high school football rankings.
“I played freshman year, before I got with the band and I’ve always been a big fan, going back to the days when (former Nebraska quarterback) Tommie Frazier was playing at Manatee,” Thomsen said. “I keep up with the team through talking with my mom and my grandmon who always reads the Bradenton Herald. It’s a strong community of football. A lot of us are proud to be one of the No. 1 teams.”
There are plenty of celebrities who aren’t afraid to show their love for their old school, especially when that team is in the Super 25.
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We the Kings was among the headliners for Warped Tour 2012, have sold more than 350,000 albums in the U.S. and their 2010 single, Check Yes Juliet, went platinum. All four members of the band: Thomsen; lead vocalist Travis Clark; bass player Drew Thomsen; and drummer Danny Duncan, went to Manatee. Last year, Thomsen rode on the back of a Corvette during a Manatee homecoming, but his schedule keeps him away from most games.
“It’s hard to see the team play,” Thomsen said. “Hopefully, one of these Fridays this year, we’ll get out there. They were on TV about three to four weeks ago and we were in Rhode Island (at Roger Williams University in Bristol) and I tried to find somebody at the school to let me see the game on TV. I ended up watching at a little cafe at the school. It was awesome to see on TV the field I used to play on.”
Supermodel Brooklyn Decker was a cheerleader at No. 10 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) and mockingly complained last year on Twitter: “My Butler High School Bulldogs won the NC STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS in football for the 2nd year in a row!!! 5 years too late.. jerks.. hahaha.”
While Butler athletics director Courtney Paschal hasn’t seen Decker at games lately, he said she still has connections with the school.
“She has a pretty tight relationship with a couple of teachers here,” Paschal said. “They attended her wedding and she’s invited to everything.”
Matt Barr played quarterback at Allen, Texas, No. 16 in the Super 25, through his sophomore year before he decided to concentrate on acting.
He recently played Johnse Hatfield in the Hatfields & McCoys miniseries. Though he’s best known for his role as Ian Banks (Pyscho Derek) on TV’s One Tree Hill, his football connections sometimes show in his work. He’s producing a movie, 12 Mighty Orphans, based on how the Masonic Home Orphanage in Fort Worth became a high school football powerhouse from 1927-40.
“Matt tries to follow Allen the best that he can, but with all of his traveling it is hard,” said his father, Mike Barr, who played football at Purdue and coached at Purdue and Southern Methodist.
Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is also pretty busy, but he has been a solid supporter of No. 21 Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, tweeting about the team, showing up at home games and wearing a Bishop Gorman T-shirt at UFC weigh-ins. He attended Bishop Gorman and follows the team closely because UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who played for Gorman, has a son, Lorenzo, Jr., who plays for the team.
“This is Vegas, so we’re used to seeing different famous people here,” said Bishop Gorman coach Tony Sanchez. “It’s not that much a distraction, but it is neat. If you live in Vegas, you know who Dana White is.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @jimhalley.