A huge smile came across the face of Florida redshirt freshman wide receiver Deonte Thompson last week when he caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow in the Gators’ 56-6 victory over South Carolina.
“I felt like my old self again,” Thompson said. “I’m trying to get a little swagger back. I’m going out there and doing what I have to do. I am going out there and doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Thompson, whose 213 yards receiving ranks third on the team, has now caught touchdown passes in two of Florida’s last three games and has shown that he can make plays as well as contribute as an effective blocker on the outside.
“I just have a great attitude (about things) right now,” Thompson said. “The offense is clicking on all cylinders. We’re getting the ball and spreading it around. With all of the playmakers that we have, this thing is really going.”
The 66 yards receiving for Thompson against South Carolina were a career-high as was his 46-yard scoring catch.
Things have gotten better for Thompson as the season has progressed. The 6-0, 195-pound wide receiver caught his first career touchdown in Florida’s 49-10 rout of Georgia and finished the game with three receptions for 34 yards.
“My role is becoming bigger and bigger every week,” Thompson said. “I just go out there and do my job. I work hard to get open and when Tim (Tebow) sees me, he gets the ball to me.”
When he arrived in Gainesville, Thompson was regarded as one of the fastest players in the country. As a prep senior in 2007, he won the 200 meters in the Class 2A state meet for Glades Central in a race that included current teammate Jeffrey Demps.
Having a group of speedy teammates such as Demps, Chris Rainey and Percy Harvin has helped Thompson push himself.
“Everyone is fast and everyone is just like me,” Thompson said. “That’s what makes our offense so good. All of us are fast. When you come into a program like this, it’s more than just you. There are people that have already been here that have been working, so you have to get on your ground and start working and try to get in there also.”
At Glades Central, Thompson was known for making big plays. Perhaps his finest hour came in the Class 3A state championship game against Pensacola Pine Forest in 2006.
Thompson caught one pass in that game, but it went for a 44-yard touchdown. He showed he could make plays with his legs as well, scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a 23-yard run with 3:38 left in Glades Central’s 39-27 victory. For the game, Thompson, who finished with 122 yards on three kickoff returns, totaled 189 all-purpose yards.
With things rolling for Florida, Deonte Thompson’s confidence level keeps growing. “I’m so comfortable right now,” Thompson said. “They used to say the play in the huddle and I’d be thinking, but now I go out there and read the coverages and process the play before it even happens.”