by Max Jeppesen
To say Deven Thompkins is having an incredible season is an understatement. He is second in the nation in receiving yards and has the potential to break many school records. He could also help lead Utah State to a potential Mountain West Conference Championship.
Through the Years
Thompkins is a two-star recruit from Fort Myers, Florida. He was recruited by Utah State back in 2018. For Jordan Love’s final season as an Aggie in 2019, Thompkins was his third-favorite target coming in with 40 receptions, 536 yards, and four touchdowns.
The 2020 season was one many Aggie fans would like to forget. For Thompkins, life was at a crossroads. Following the end of the season, he entered the transfer portal searching for a new opportunity that would help save the last two years of eligibility. Then, when new head coach Blake Anderson came to the scene, it all changed.
“I believe in Blake Anderson’s vision,” Thompkins said. “I believe things are going to get on track.”
If the new coach was the “tracks,” then Thompkins was the “train.” Ever since returning to Utah State, he has been one of the best receivers in the nation.
By the Numbers
So far, he has 63 receptions with 1,099 yards and six touchdowns. To put this into perspective, he has more yards and touchdowns than his previous three seasons combined. Keep in mind, there are five more games than last season. It could be six if Utah State goes to the Mountain West championship game.
Thompkins is the first Aggie since Kevin Curtis back in 2002 to have over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. With four games remaining, he is on track to pass Kevin Curtis’ record of 1,531 yards. If he keeps up his 137 yards per game average, Thompkins will break the record in three games.
What makes Thompkins an elite wide receiver? What is making him special, and what has he done over his college career to improve?
What made Thompkins special early in his career was his agility. He often rotates with wide receiver Savon Scarver on punt and kick returns. When Deven is in the slot position or is running a slant route, he is quick to make adjustments and is able to pick up many yards after the catch.
Take a look at this play at Air Force earlier this year showing how quick he can be.
This is also a great clip against a ranked BYU team as he gained yards after the catch.
One of Deven’s most underrated abilities has to be his athleticism to make some incredible catches. At 5’8”, he makes up for his height by being able to jump to catch most of the throws coming from quarterback Logan Bonner.
It is like his hand has a magnet to the ball. Take a look at this catch at San Diego State in 2019.
3. Yards of Separation
A recent tool to his game has to be his art of route running and gaining separation. This is a skill that takes years to master. Many NFL scouts look for these abilities as it shows a receiver’s ability to get hit their route quickly. It’s such a valuable trait, as the average throw in the NFL comes 2.72 seconds after the snap.
This catch at Allegiant Stadium over UNLV is a great demonstration of this skill.
It is no doubt that M Thompkins has NFL talent. However, his height is the only thing that might scare off many teams. Especially in recent years, the height of a wide receiver has gotten taller. The average is around 6’1”. Over the years, many smaller wide receivers have had plenty of success in the NFL. Many Ute fans will be familiar with former Ute receiver Steve Smith as well other little legends like Wes Welker and Danny Amendola.
If Utah State were to compete in the Mountain West Championship as well as a high-level bowl game, Thompkins has a chance to push his draft stock higher. The sky is the limit. He has shown he can work with different coaches and quarterbacks to overcome adversities.
Featured image courtesy USU Athletics