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Player Profile Series: WR Der'rikk Thompson
Position: Wide Receiver
Size: 5-11, 190
High School:Troup (TX)
2011 Review: After redshirting in 2010, wide receiver Der'rikk "Bird" Thompson flew on to the scene and dazzled pony fans with his exceptional speed. Thompson, who has ran a 4.37 in the 40-yard-dash, flew by defenders last season and developed into a true deep threat for quarterback J.J. McDermott.
At the beginning of last season, now junior Keenan Holman was lined up as the starter on the outside for the Mustangs, however after an injury sidelined Holman allowing Thompson to take control of the starting role. He never looked back. Thompson finished the year averaging almost 14 yards a grab and recorded 30 catches for 411 yards and three scores.
Thompson's ability to create separation was on full display when the Mustangs hosted UCF last year. Thompson caught a 72-yard bomb from McDermott while striking down the left sideline and simply outran the Golden Knight defensive back to the end zone. Thompson also had a very nice catch in the end zone against Memphis, where he beat another corner down the left sideline.
2011 Grade: B
2012 Outlook: Thompson showed a lot of promise in 2011 and at 5-foot-11, 190-pounds is a little bigger than primetime receiver Darius Johnson, not to mention, he's faster as well. However, there were five games last season where he Thompson failed to bring in more than one pass.
Thompson's difficulties can partially be chalked up to inconsistent quarterback play, and the production of Beasley and Johnson, but it also can be attributed to Thompson primarily relying on speed alone to get open. Thompson must work on making his routes sharper and crisper as well as his ability to find soft spots in coverage.
With new QB Garret Gilbert at the helm, June Jones will surely find it pleasing to have a deep threat with jets like ‘Bird'. With Darius Johnson gaining national attention and Cole Beasley and Terrence Wilkerson both gone, it's time for one of the young Mustang receivers to step up into a primary role in the offense.
If Zach Line continues to pound the rock like he has the past couple of seasons, defenses will have to creep up closer to the line of scrimmage giving Gilbert the chance to take shots down field- this is where Thompson can definitely earn his keep.
Thompson doesn't possess the skillset of a number one receiver yet, but he can definitely make big plays especially after the catch. Look for him to spread the field next year and move in to a bigger role.
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