It’s Deonte’s time to shine

There were times last season when Florida wide receiver Deonte Thompson could have thrown in the towel. Coming in as one of the top receiver prospects in the nation, Thompson hoped to make an immediate impact with the Gators, but it took longer than he expected.

“Every freshman wants to come in and play right away and I thought that I would come in and do that,” said the 6-0, 195-pound redshirt freshman. “But, you know, things didn’t work out like that, so (I) just had to keep practicing and getting better.”

During those tough early times, Thompson spoke with veteran Florida players like Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. The advice he got from them stayed with him and has helped him begin to make an impact on the Florida offense.

“They’ve meant a lot to me,” Thompson said. “I’ve learned so much from those cats, from football and just how to handle everything. We’re real tight.”

Thompson, who started at Belle Glade’s Glades Central High School, has caught at least one touchdown pass in three of Florida’s last four games. Currently, he is third on the team with 269 yards receiving.

He had 56 yards receiving in the Gators’ 70-19 rout of The Citadel and has managed at least three catches in three of his last four outings.

The signs that Thompson was going to become a breakout type of player were apparent during the preseason.

“Coming into this year, we worked a lot in two-a-days,” Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “The more reps he gets, the more opportunities he gets, and the more catches he gets, the better feel we get for each other.”

Thompson and Florida’s offense now turn their attention to Florida State, which was impressive in a 37-3 victory over Maryland last week.

“It’s coming along well and we just have to keep practicing hard,” Thompson said. “If we keep doing that, then everything will be all right. It’s real big. (It’s) rivalry week. It’s a rival game. It’s got to be big.”