A sports career can be derailed by a multitude of things- but above all else, injuries can end one seemingly before it even began. It’s not simply getting back from the injury, but thriving afterwards which shows what that athlete is made of. “Touchdown” Tommy Addison not only pushed past adversity, but put together one hell of a college career as well as a professional one overseas.
Addison’s story begins in Germantown, Maryland. It was his junior season that saw him primed to break out, his name on the tongue of many a Division 1 college scout. Maryland, ECU, Rutgers and Villanova seemed to be the frontrunners at the time. Then it changed in the blink of an eye.
“I came through a hole, and made a cut. A defender jumped on my back, and the weight of him brought me down. Then I heard a snap, and knew it wasn’t good,” says Addison.
The then-high school junior’s world was turned upside down. He had just cleanly broken his fibula and tibia.
“It was incredibly traumatizing. I had to go through extensive physical therapy four times a week. I had to learn how to walk again, then run, then make cuts and get my agility back.”
A steel rod was put in Addison’s leg, and doubt was put in some of the schools who were initially after the talented running back. Maryland, ECU and Villanova pulled back. Rutgers remained intrigued, as well as another school- Shepherd University out of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. While Rutgers offered only a partial scholarship, Addison’s mind was made up by the offer he received from Monte Cater and company. The Rams featured a run-heavy system with a stingy defense, but transitioning to a smaller school was no easy task for Addison.
“All the key players from that championship team went to D1 schools, and it took me some time to get my pride back.” His brother, Travis Hawkins, would go on to play at Maryland then transferring to Delaware. He was with the Patriots this past summer, before being let go in the final round of cuts. He is currently with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
“I was so focused on playing at a big school before the injury, then I had to readjust my vision afterwards. While it was tough at first, the fact it was close to home and the bond I formed with my teammates and the coaching staff made it a lot easier.”
There was a log jam at running back during Addison’s freshman season, but he saw more playing time as the season wore on. He’d eventually be starting by his sophomore year. It was his junior year at Shepherd which saw him really earn the “Touchdown” moniker. He ran for 1,670 yards and 19 scores. His sensational season helped lead the Rams to the furthest they’d ever been in the D2 playoffs- the national semifinals. They would lose a sloppy game filled with rain and mud to Delta State.
“We were forced to pass it more that game, and anytime our receivers went to run their routes, they were slipping. Turnovers hurt us,” said Tommy.
His final season as a Ram saw a dip in Addison’s production. “Touchdown” missed four games due to hamstring injuries, totaling 946 yards with 10 scores and 6 yards per carry. He’d finish his career with 3,597 yards, 41 touchdowns with averages of 5.8 yards per carry and 91 yards a game.
Addison would then move on to the draft process, transitioning to the combine drills and testing.
“I’d never had combine training, so it took me some time to adjust.The broad jump was new to me, and I had to improve at the bench, too. I had to get the right trainers, while increasing my size. I went from 178 pounds to 195, which helped at the pro level.”
He’d gain interest from the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, but was cut a week and a half in. His next stop was Finland for four months.
“They aren’t as familiar with traditional football, so being around it for much longer I was able to show them things they weren’t accustomed to. I did very well there.”
After that season, Addison would go to play in France with the Black Panthers, earning himself another championship.
While he has seen success in high school, college and pro- Saturday’s combine brings a whole new level of excitement to the table.
“It will be fun to be in front of the CFL scouts in College Park. It’s like my backyard. I consider myself and every down back, and a scat back. I can do it all, and I want them to see that. Since leaving Shepherd and moving on to the professional level, my speed has increased and my vision is sharper than ever.”
But what else has changed in order for Addison to be prepared for his latest opportunity?
“I’ve done more Olympic lifting. Not just squats and bench- but deadlifts, too. I have more power and more explosion. I feel bigger and stronger than I was before, yet I didn’t lose much speed. I want the scouts to see that any time I can catch the ball, I can score. With my speed, once I get past you- I’m gone.”
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