- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
2014 athlete DeAndre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro) earned a Penn State scholarship offer today, and NittanyNation caught up with him in the afternoon to see how his recruitment is going and what he thinks about Penn State:
NittanyNation: Your recruitment is really starting to pick up; you have five offers already. Did you kind of expect this back when you were a freshman, or has this come as a surprise?
DeAndre Thompkins: It kind of came as a surprise. But, when I first came here, Coach told me if I worked hard, colleges would come to see me. So it was kind of a surprise, but I was still looking forward to that. He told me that summer after my freshman year. I came here Aug. 1 from Georgia.
A lot of it came from my coach. He's put in a lot of time, and everyone's loving my speed. So I guess that's one key thing that's putting me in there. And a lot talk about my vision and cutbacks.
NN: What position do you play, exactly? Do you play the same thing this year as you did last year?
DT: I played pretty much the same position I did last year. I'm moved around; I was in an athlete-based position. So I play pretty much everywhere.
On offense, I play quarterback, running back, wide receiver and sometimes as tight end. As far as learning every position, it's an advantage because when you learn one position, you see better how you have to make certain plays work at other places. It really helps you a lot of ways, and I do play both ways, too. On defense, I play safety and corner.
NN: Where do most colleges see you playing?
DT: It varies from team to team. Most of them say slot wide receiver or like a wingback, like a running back/wide receiver. That's pretty much what all the schools agree on. But it doesn't really matter to me. I'll play anywhere.
NN: You already visited Appalachian State and UNC -- and you're planning on going to N.C. State this weekend -- but talk to me about Penn State, which you're visiting Nov. 24. That's a little farther away; what's your opinion on the Nittany Lions?
DT: Yeah, it is kind of far. But I hear a lot from them, and they're always dedicated in what they do. It's a very new and improved facility they have. The coaches are very keen on what they do. It's one of those environments that's hard to come by in football.
And, Coach [Ted] Roof, he's very down to earth. We joke around a lot but when it gets down to business, talking about Penn State, he's really honest. He tells the truth no matter if it's good or bad.
NN: Do Penn State's sanctions bother you at all, and where do they stand on your list?
DT: It's fine. You don't have to go to a bowl game to experience the good part on the football field, and you still have a great chance to go to the next level. It's one of those things some people look down on, but it's not something I do.
And they're definitely at the top of the list. I keep all my schools level -- all my schools are very equal -- but they're one of those schools I look forward to seeing.
NN: Why is Penn State so high up on your list?
DT: Because that's one of the schools that you hear around the world. That's one of the most famous stadiums that you ever want to go to. So I would love to go there and see the environment. It's just one of those places that few people get to go and see.
Coach is always talking about how good they are, and I want to see it. I watched the Ohio State game and how much hard work they put into the game. But it's not just what I'm hearing from my coach; I can't wait to look forward to see what they do.
NN: What type of characteristics are you looking for in your perfect school?
DT: First would be academics. You know, what they have to offer me for majors and as far as what I would be if I didn't play football the school. Secondly is the environment: Do I feel comfortable with the area? And third is how fast I can get on the field and play.
NN: Do you have a timetable for your decision? Is this something you'd want to get out of the way before your senior season begins?
DT: I just want to take as long as I can and get the full experience, go to every school I can so I don't have to be in that one place and think I shouldn't have been there. So I'm just waiting and extending my time so I can get as many visits as I can.
I have to work better in the weight room, work harder in the classroom and get better -- and get better offers and better stats.
1dJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren