The Penn State Nittany Lions have picked up the commitment of 4-star wideout/athlete recruit De'Andre Thompkins, and he's going to bring a plethora of talents to the program.
Thompkins is from Swansboro, N.C. and he's ranked as the No. 22 athlete in the 2014 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He can play cornerback or wide receiver, though Josh Moyer of ESPN.com is reporting that PSU has recruited him to mostly play wideout and return kicks:
He's now the headliner of this class and instantly helps Penn State's depth with his ability to play on both sides of the ball. He was primarily recruited as a wide receiver but could also play nickelback and will play returner. He's the fifth commit of the 2014 class and the second wideout.
However he's ranked, there's one thing that's certain and that's the fact that he projects to be a very talented player at the college level, and he's a big commitment for Penn State.
Here's my complete scouting report for Thompkins.
- Name: De'Andre Thompkins
- Hometown: Swansboro, N.C.
- School: Swansboro High School
- Position: WR/ATH
- Height: 6'0" (247Sports)
- Weight: 170 pounds (247Sports)
- 40 Time: 4.41 (247Sports)
- Rankings: 4-star (247Sports Composite), 3-star (Rivals), 3-star (Scout.com), 4-star (ESPN Recruiting Nation)
As a receiver, Thompkins has the size and speed to be a deep threat at the college level. He'll be able to break a cornerback's cushion, make a quick move with his great footwork and get behind the defense. He could also be very effective in the slots because of vision, elusiveness and quickness.
If you get the ball in his hands with room to work in front of him, he's going to be a very dangerous offensive player for Penn State.
He runs with long strides, but also has good foot quickness. He has tremendous explosion and he displays that proverbial "second gear" that you look for in playmakers. He's a very patient runner, but he knows when to flip the switch and run for daylight.
He has good vision and awareness when the ball is in the air, and he has the body control to adjust and make a play.
Penn State is going to want to try to get the ball in Thomkins' hands as much as possible. He'll be a great running option on jet sweeps and reverses, and he could even line up in the backfield, get the edge and outrun defenders to the end zone.
However they do it, the Nittany Lions will need to get the football to Thompkins.
I don't normally do a film breakdown of a player on special teams, but Thompkins projects to be an elite kick returner, and I do think you'll get a good sense of the skills that he possesses from watching him return kicks.
He starts off as the deep man on this play, which looks to be a kick return middle:
Here's the wedge setting up, but there's a missed block which allows No. 41 to dive inside. Thompkins already can see that coming, though, and you can see that his left foot is planted, ready to make a sharp cut:
He's able to cut and avoid the diving defender, and by making that cut he also sets up his next set of blocks:
At this point, though, he could easily get trapped in. The defense does a good job of collapsing and getting behind a few key blocks. Thompkins has to rely on his vision, agility and speed now to get out of this:
The defender coming from the right edge does a poor job of breaking down on his tackle, thus Thompkins is able to use his footwork and quickness to get under the tackle. You can see the defender's momentum going the other way as he reaches out. This is directly a result of Thompkins reversing field. From here, he has the edge and the speed to beat defenders outside of this cluster:
This next sequence is what really makes Thompkins special in my opinion. Once he gets the edge he can see that there's a defender trying to get the angle on him. Rather than try to outrun him to a point where the defender has the angle, Thompkin's makes one quick, sharp cut which you can see in the second picture:
The result is that the defender has to quickly change his momentum the other way, but by that time Thomkins' speed takes over and he's able avoid another diving tackle. From there, he outruns the remaining defenders using the straight path that he's created all the way to the end zone:
Agility, speed, vision and the ability to make defenders miss are all on display in this one play. He'll bring all of those traits to the table as a wide receiver as well, but Thompkins should be a top-notch kick returner.
It's hard to find a negative in Thompkins' game, so I had to get very nit-picky. The one thing that could hurt him at the college level is his affinity for reversing field when he's in a jam rather than moving forward and picking up the yards he can. Defenders will be smarter, faster and more disciplined, so he won't always be able to reverse field, get a new edge and gain yards.
Cutback defenders will be trained to play their lanes, and there will always be a "boot-reverse" player.
Players are naturally more discipline at the college level, so that may be a part of his game that needs to be tweaked a bit.
What ranking would you give Thompkins?
Thompkins possesses elite potential, especially if Penn State utilizes all of his skills. He'll be great as a receiver, especially if the Nittany Lions can get the ball in his hands with room to work, and he projects to be a top-notch kick returner.
In a few years,w e could be talking about Thompkins as one of the most dynamic players in college football, so overall, landing his commitment is a huge, and must needed recruiting win for Penn State.