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Thursday, April 25, 2013
Q&A: ESPN 150 ATH Thompkins talks PSU

By Josh Moyer

ESPN 150 wideout/athlete De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, N.C./Swansboro) became Penn State's fifth pledge of the 2014 class after an unofficial visit Saturday.

He's the headliner of the class right now, and he recently spoke with NittanyNation about his commitment, his thoughts on PSU taking its third wideout, and more.

NittanyNation: We talked last week, and I wasn't sure whether you were hinting at a commitment or not. So, let me ask you now: Did you know you before coming up to PSU that you were going to leave as a Nittany Lion?

De'Andre Thompkins: Not at all. I didn't go in there thinking I was going to commit or anything. My eyes just opened up, I knew by halftime of the spring game. I told my dad, 'Hey, I think I'm going to commit.' He just asked me if I really thought that was the right choice for me. I said yes, and he was behind it.

Pretty much, I just felt good. It felt like a place that I liked. It had everything I wanted in a school, and I couldn't see why I wouldn't commit.

NN: So when did you really start thinking, Hmmm, maybe I'm going to commit this weekend?

DT: I kind of thought about it the whole first half, just weighing the pros and cons, and it just came to me. There was just a whole bunch of good things and not really any negative: great program, great coaching staff, great environment, good players. Hmm ... what else? What else? And, the fans, they're crazy -- even in the spring game. They were wild and loud, and they were getting into the game.

Everything about the school is just positive. They're always trying to go forward and make themselves better.

NN: What kind of role did Christian Hackenberg, who'll likely be your QB at some point, have on you? Was he a big factor at all?

DT: Not really. He was telling me it was the right place for me, but nobody influenced me to make this choice. I made it solely by myself. And having a quarterback like that, not the fact he was telling me about it but that he stuck through whatever negative people are saying about the school -- I thought if he can do it, why can't I?

He did tell me Penn State was right for me. But when I made my decision, I made it for me.

NN: There are three receivers in this class now with you: Troy Apke and Chris Godwin, who committed Tuesday. I don't know if you anticipated that many, but I don't think most people did. What's your take now on the added competition?

DT: To talk about the competition part, I mean, it's kind of funny because three receivers isn't really considered a lot of competition. If you look at ECU, those guys recruit, like, 11 wide receivers. You have 11 guys to compete with every day.

And I'm not saying I shy away from competition. I love getting better; I want to be with the best people. But having those guys up there, it's not making me shy away from my choice. I did not hesitate about it. When I do go to practice, they're the ones who are going to be pushing me.

NN: You're already ranked as the 54th-best player in the nation, and you're committed to a major program. What else is left for you to accomplish?

DT: Try to turn that 54 into a No. 1. And, when I get there, I want to work my butt off. My dream is to be a freshman All-American but when you get there, you have to work your butt off. So I'll just have to improve and open people's eyes.

NN: What have you learned about Bill O'Brien from talking to him throughout this recruiting process?

DT: He's the kind of coach where he coaches first before he's your friend. He's strict, but you know he's strict for a reason. He's a guy who doesn't take nonsense. He wants the best for you, and he wants you to be the best. When you talk to him, you know you need to show eye contact and be on your game. He gives you a lot of insight.

NN: And one more thing -- I've got to ask -- "University of Pennsylvania State"?

DT: That was all part of the plan, (laughs). Nah, I kind of slipped up. But, no matter what, I'll correct myself now -- Pennsylvania State University -- but I still love those guys. I love Penn State.