The next player up is a true freshman who enrolled early at Penn State this past spring: wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins. Thompkins joins fellow true freshmen wideouts Troy Apke, Saeed Blacknall and Chris Godwin as newcomers to the Nittany Lions’ young but talented wide receiver unit.
Back in early January when Bill O’Brien left and took former wide receiver coach Stan Hixon with him, Thompkins considered going elsewhere. But James Franklin and his staff must have made a compelling argument and convinced Thompkins to come to Happy Valley and enroll early just has he had planned to do.
Thompkins hails from Hubert, NC and played his high school ball at Swansboro High School in Swansboro, NC. He was ranked by Rivals as a 4-star recruit (No. 40 wide receiver in the country) and held offers from schools such as Clemson, Notre Dame, Tennessee and more.
With Allen Robinson off to the NFL, Thompkins, along with the other freshmen receivers, is being expected by many to contribute on the field right away. Despite the fact that Thompkins is only 5-foot-11, 171 pounds, he has electric speed and is dangerous with the ball in the open field. He can do damage as a slot receiver, punt returner and, like we saw in the Blue-White game, he can be utilized in trick plays.
Thompkins also has the upper hand because he already has a semester under his belt and went through spring practice, spring conditioning, etc. Thompkins is going to be something special for the Nittany Lions, but he’s still a true freshman, meaning there will likely be some growing pains this season.
Something along the lines of 300 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2014 seems reasonable. Hey, maybe we’ll see him return a punt for a touchdown, too.