Over the next few months, NittanyNation will look closer at the 2014 recruits who claim offers from Penn State. Today we examine wideout De'Andre Thompkins, who received an offer Nov. 1.
Vitals: WR De'Andre Thompkins, Swansboro (N.C.), 6-foot, 170 pounds
Offers: He currently holds nine, including a half-dozen from FBS schools. Some of his bigger offers to this point include Georgia Tech, N.C. State, North Carolina and West Virginia. He's interested in the SEC, but he's also big on the Nittany Lions.
Numbers game: ESPN lists Thompkins as an "athlete" for good reason. He played both ways as a junior, and he saw time at a lot of different places. In a run-first offense that saw just 31 completions all season, he carried the ball 175 times for 1,359 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught four balls for 96 yards and a score, and played some quarterback by going 6-of-22 for 62 yards. And don't forget about defense, where he finished with 42 tackles and four fumble recoveries as a safety. And then -- perhaps most impressive of all -- there's special teams. As a kick returner, he made 11 returns for 560 yards and five touchdowns. That's not a misprint. He averaged more than 50 yards a return -- and head coach Tim Laspada confirmed those numbers' accuracy.
Memorable highlight: Early in the season, Thompkins took a direct snap from the shotgun from around midfield, ran up the middle, stopped, spun left and sprinted to the left sideline. He could've been tackled right there for about a six-yard gain, but he spun off another would-be tackler, reversed field and sprinted up the right sideline to complete about a 45-yard touchdown. Granted, there was a flag on the play -- likely holding -- but still an impressive run. You can watch it here at the 2:01 mark.
State of the position: Wide receiver is one position that PSU has a lot of quality depth at, so the Nittany Lions will likely only take one this class. (And certainly no more than two.) There will be seven wideouts on scholarship in 2014 -- not counting 2014 commits or newly converted DB Malik Golden -- and four of them will either be true or redshirt freshmen this season.
What has caught Penn State's eye: Thompkins boasts two characteristics that made PSU jump after watching his film. For one, he's got speed on his side and turned in a hand-timed 4.39-second 40 at a camp over the weekend. And with PSU's limited scholarships, Thompkins has the range and versatility that this staff is looking for. He's been told PSU mainly wants him at wideout, but he could also see time as a nickelback and will compete to become the team's kick returner.
What are Penn State's chances? Very good. He drove up to see the PSU-Wisconsin game shortly after receiving that scholarship offer, and he'll be up again on April 19-20 for the Blue-White Game. He'll be joined by his father, his football coach and the basketball coach -- so it's likely looking good for PSU. He previously said the SEC is alluring, but he's formed a good relationship with the Lions' staff -- and he really enjoyed his first trip. If there's a favorite at this point, it has to be Penn State.
Quotables: "Penn State's always that school that most people never get to see in their lifetime; it's just one of the biggest stadiums and the best fan bases ever. I still get love from some of the fans there. I just love that place. You can't really put it into words when you're on a big campus like that, and you hear all the people screaming at the football game and you see the student section jumping and getting crazy."