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Saturday, April 20, 2013
Coach: Thompkins shows elite potential

By Josh Moyer

Just how good is four-star recruit De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro), who committed to Penn State on Saturday?

His high school coach, Tim Laspada, once helped coach future No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mario Williams. And he believes that his speedy wideout belongs in the same league.

Thompkins is the headliner of PSU's class right now, and he and his family were celebrating his commitment early Saturday evening. So NittanyNation spoke to Laspada, who probably knows most what Thompkins, ranked No. 54 in the ESPN 150, is capable of on the field:

On what separates Thompkins from other players: "He's just explosive, dynamic -- just a playmaker. He's so versatile because he's able to do so many things. He can return kicks, play receiver, and there's so many things he can bring to Penn State that they either don't have or haven't had in a while.

"He has tremendous speed, athleticism and leadership. Those are the things I see -- and I'm glad I have him for one year. He just plays at a faster speed than everybody else."

On when he first knew Thompkins was special: "I knew when he was in seventh grade. He played middle school football, and it just looked like everybody else was moving in slow motion. He was so much faster than everyone. I was an assistant coach at Richlands with Mario Williams, and this kid ranks up there. Is he in the same league? Absolutely.

"His dad's a Marine, and my son's in the same grade he is -- and he's just something special. He moved back to Georgia then but came back his sophomore year. I was extremely happy when I heard he came back."

On when Thompkins has especially showcased his ability, be it on a play or game: "Oh, absolutely. Oh my goodness, there's so many plays he's done that I've never seen before. He'll change direction all the way across the field and make several people miss.

"Like on one kick return, there were 11 guys right on top of him -- within a couple feet of him -- and he made them all miss. And I'm like, 'Good lord, I've never seen that before.' He's just unbelievable."