Many eyes have been caught on the East practice field this week by the overall talent of Deonte Thompson. Coming into the week, Thompson was viewed as a track athlete playing football. He has made it his goal this week however, to prove that he has found his niche as a receiver.
Walking around the ballroom of the Westin Hotel, it is tough to miss the gold teeth in Deonte Thompson’s smile. It’s also tough to miss him making plays on the practice field.
“It was a good first practice,” Thompson said. “Tiring for sure though. Long days work, but it will be worth it on Saturday.”
After putting on a show during his first few days on the field against three of the top cornerbacks in the nation (Eric Berry, Marcus Gilchrist, and Gary Gray), Thompson was not sure who was the best player on the defensive side of the ball, while showing the swagger he carries about himself on the field.
“I really couldn’t tell you. I didn’t think it was all that tough. I mean those guys are good, but I didn’t miss any balls and I was open a lot.”
Thompson feels the East team has a solid group of receivers, one that should help them to victory on Saturday.
“Me and Arrelious Benn are pushing each other every day. And of course my boy Aaron Hernandez,” Thompson said as Hernandez walked up and put his arm around him.”
Besides catching passes with current Gator commit Aaron Hernandez, Thompson has been catching passes this week from the committed Gator quarterback, John Brantley.
“John Brantley, that’s my boy. He said he was going to hook me up with some touchdowns when I get to Florida,” Thompson claimed, almost as if he didn’t realize what he had said.
After I asked him if he meant to say that, he quickly backtracked. “If. I meant to say if I go to Florida,” Thompson laughed.
During seven on seven drills during practice on Monday, Thompson was even seen doing the Gator chomp between plays.
“Oh man,” Deonte said while still laughing. “I was messing with Brantley and Rainey when they were talking about Florida in between plays. I was just having fun with them. I put the “U” up right after that to mess around with them.”
No matter where his future destination is, the Glades Central (FL) wide receiver is excited about just spending time with his fellow All Americans.
“I’m looking forward to just having a good time,” Thompson said. “I’m glad I get to meet all these new guys and have fun with them.”
Even though he wants to meet new people at this game, he also has come to San Antonio with one goal in mind.
“I’m going to prove that I’m the best wide receiver here,” Thompson said unfazed. “I want to be listed as the #1 wide receiver and I think that’s how I should be rated.”
The role which the five star wide receiver will play in the offense he chooses still remains to be seen. Some view him as a guy that offensive coordinators just want to get the ball in his hands and allow him to create plays. Others believe he can be a very successful down the field threat.
“I think I’m a downfield threat and a guy that can catch the ball close to line of scrimmage and make things happen,” Thompson said.
“If it’s going deep or catching a hitch and making things happen, I’ll do whatever and like to do both,” Thompson said. “I just want the ball in my hands so I can make plays. I feel like I can take either play to the house, a screen or a go route. Even when I got tripled teamed this season, I still scored.”
Early in the talent evaluation process, some thought Thompson was a pure speed guy, needing to perfect the intricacies of the wide receiver position.
“I feel like I’m a great route runner,” Thompson said. “I work with some great coaches on it and I take pride on my ability to run routes and do the little things as a receiver. People just think I’m fast so they automatically assume I can’t run routes, but I think I am great at it.”
Already going to Ohio State and USC, Thompson now has two visits left.
“I have two visits left to Florida then Miami,” Thompson said. “I should go to Florida the 12th of January, but we have a parade for winning state on the 13th, so I may move it to the next weekend, depending on parade.
“I’ll be visiting Miami sometime after that, and then I’ll decide. It’ll be between Miami, Florida, USC, and Ohio State.”
One thing Thompson has decided is the key characteristic his specific school must possess. As many high school kids want, he wants a school that feels like home.
“If you don’t have comfort, you’re all on your own. You can’t be successful if you’re on your own with no support. Family and friends have been important in my life so far, and I don’t think that should change in college.”
In seeing the East practice on Monday and the West practice Tuesday, Deonte Thompson is the player whose talent has surprised me the most. I knew Thompson could run, but the precision in his routes are very impressive. With the three top corners on the East squad being three of the highest rated corners in the nation, the truth in Thompson’s statement that they couldn’t guard him becomes that much more remarkable.