After Redshirt Season, WR DeAndre Thompkins Is Set To Emerge
DeAndre Thompkins is a patient man. After highlighting James Franklin’s stellar 2014 recruiting class as a four-star, blue chip athlete, Thompkins was immediately surrounded by hype and expectations. There were talks of the young receiver hitting the field early and making an impact as a true freshmen, but those talks amounted to just that — rumors and speculation. Thompkins wound up redshirting in 2014, while fellow true freshmen Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin saw significant playing time. It wasn’t that Thompkins’ abilities weren’t up to par, rather the manner in which the cards were dealt. Thompkins waited his turn, and in 2015, he’s ready to show the nation that patience is a virtue.
Thompkins possesses a bevy of talent, and because of this, the possibilities are countless when it comes to his place in the offense. For starters, he’s fast — reports say Thompkins clocked in 40-yard dash times in the neighborhood of 4.3, making him one of the fastest players on the entire team. This incredible speed gives his position coaches endless options, but none more than Special Teams Coordinator Charles Huff, who said he’d like to see Thompkins receive opportunities as a kick or punt returner.
“We’ve got options [at return man], and DeAndre brings something that we look for in this program,” said Huff. “He’s going to help us get to the level that we want to get to through competition. With competition comes depth, and that depth helps create options. DeAndre is an unbelievable athlete, and was one of the faster players on the team coming in. He’s going to give us the ability to have him, Grant [Haley], Koa [Farmer], and those guys compete for the starting returner job.”
It’s obvious to see why having the 5-foot-11, 176-pound speedster back deep to field kicks and punts is a tantalizing prospect. He’s shifty, agile, and lightning quick. He’s the type of player who can make plays in limited space, making him a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Obviously, competition for the return man gig will be stiff, and DeAndre will have his work cut out for him. If the job becomes his, however, he could add the special teams spark this program has been seeking for quite some time.
Thompkins reflected on his redshirt year, along with the knowledge he gained during his time on the sideline.
“I’m excited to hit the field and actually compete this season,” he said. “I learned a lot during my redshirt year, and it was a time to develop, grow, and mature as a player, and I think I’ve done that. Now, I’m ready to show what I’ve learned. This is a big year for me.”
He’s a multi-faceted player, but there is still plenty of intrigue that surrounds him. Fans haven’t had an opportunity to witness him yet, but in 2015, he wants to give the nation a taste of what DeAndre Thompkins is really capable of doing with the ball in his hands.
“I create explosive plays, and I make people miss in the open field,” Thompkins said. “I’ll go and make a deep catch, and I just do whatever it is I need to do to get those extra yards and create those exciting moments.”
As to where Thompkins will be making those plays happen, it could be virtually anywhere on the field. In the slot, lined up outside, or anywhere in between. Thompkins says that he’s prepared to make an impact wherever he’s asked to line up.
“Coach Gattis preaches that every receiver plays every position,” Thompkins said. “Every guy plays inside and outside, so I’m ready to make plays wherever the coaches put me.”
The sky is the limit for Thompkins, who possesses a skillset similar to that of Buffalo Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin. Thompkins — like Harvin — stands just shy of 6-feet, and weighs under 190 pounds. When you compare film between the two, it’s easy to spot similarities in their respective games. Both possess the ability to go the distance and pick up significant yardage wherever they line up. Aside from that, both are equally as dangerous in the return department, and although it’s early in his young career, Thompkins has the necessary abilites to develop into a game-changer from a kick and punt return perspective.
DeAndre Thompkins is one of the main reasons Sept. 5 can’t come soon enough for fans around the country. It’s time to see if Thompkins can back up the mountain of hype that’s been surrounding him since the first time he stepped foot on campus. Nobody’s more excited than Thompkins himself, and if his play backs the hype, Penn State may have found yet another explosive weapon at the wide receiver position.