Over the next 89 days, GatorCountry will preview the players that make up the 2013 Florida Gators football team as we inch closer and closer to the season.
Each day we will count down using the player whose jersey number corresponds with how many days there are left until Florida kicks off against Toledo in the Swamp on August 31.
Today we take a look at incoming freshman wide receiver Chris Thompson.
A hometown kid and product of Gainesville high school, Thompson had to work for his scholarship offer. Thompson wasn’t initially on the coaches’ radar but he showed up to Will Muschamp’s football camp and came away with a scholarship offer from the team he grew up rooting for.
“I’ve always been a Florida fan since I was a little boy.” Thompson told GatorCountry.com. “They are my hometown school and the stadium is in my backyard. So it has been a dream to play for the Gators.”
Thompson was a two-sport star at Gainesville high school and when he wasn’t catching passes for the Hurricanes he was posting blazing times on the track. Thompson has been timed as fast as 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and his speed is one of the things that makes him a dangerous weapon at receiver.
As mentioned before, Thompson is lighting fast but that isn’t the only asset he will bring to the team. Thompson impressed the coaching staff with his precision route running and soft hands while working out at Friday Night Lights.
Thompson is a solid route runner who is capable of running the entire route tree that will be asked of him in Florida’s pro-style offense. While most of his highlight tape is him running past people, he won’t be able to do that every down in the SEC so his route running is a facet of his game that will help separate him from the pack.
He also shows great leaping ability and hands. While Thompson isn’t the tallest receiver on the roster, he is able to high point the ball very well and plays much bigger than his listed height.
Thompson also has great footwork, something that helps him create separation.
Size is the biggest issue with Thompson’s game. At 6’, 170-pounds, Thompson will need to get into Jeff Dillman’s weight program and add some considerable size to his lanky frame. Players who have Thompson’s speed can sometimes be reluctant to get into the weight room and add size because they fear that it will negatively affect their speed.
Thompson can be the fastest player in the country but if he can’t run block on the outside, he’ll find himself watching other receivers who can and do block from the sidelines.
What to Expect
I expect that Thompson will redshirt his first year on campus. Florida signed a very talented class of wide receiver last year and guys like Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood and Marquis Hawkins appear to be more ready to contribute right away.
It would take a very impressive fall camp, coupled with players like Solomon Patton and Andre Debose to really struggle during fall camp and early on in the season for Thompson to crack the lineup.
Ultimately, I feel that Thompson can and will make an impact for the Gators. He combination of speed, acceleration, quickness and route running is promising but he needs to get bigger.