March 10, 2013

Thompkins enjoys Junior Day visit

When North Carolina and Duke come together on a basketball court it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

That's exactly what happened to Swansboro (N.C.) athlete DeAndre Thompkins as he took in the action between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils Saturday night.

"I had to stay on the Carolina side," said Thompkins "The fans were great. I haven't been to Duke so I can't say if I like that school as much as I like Carolina but Carolina is just a great place. You either have to root for the team or everybody's going to look at you kind of weird the whole game. I decided to go with the crowd."

Thompkins was on hand for the game while taking a visit to Chapel Hill. Thompkins was joined by a plethora of over potential future Tar Heel football players. He says that the festivities surrounding this visit were unique from other visits he's taken and that he enjoyed the experience quite well.

"It was great. It was kind of a different Junior Day than the traditional. We had a competition and stuff. We got to interact with the coaches and spend some more time with them. We got to see a lot more of the facilities than we normally would on a traditional Junior Day," said Thompkins. "We had a corn-hole competition. We had teams and had a bracket set up. It was pretty fun we all had a competition. The coaches and everybody got into it. It was just competition stuff."

Tar Heels Illustrated asked if Thompkins' team won.

"We lost but it was still pretty fun."

When fans and scout look at Thompkins they may have a hard time pinpointing what they're looking at because of his versatility. The 6-foot-1 170-pounder has played all over the field in high school.

Thompkins got a chance to hear all the different potential ways the UNC coaching staff might use him should he commit to UNC.

"Honestly they want to use me everywhere. I play wide receiver, kick returner for sure and punt return. I play defense as well so they'll use me everywhere," said Thompkins. "But they also want to use me where I feel comfortable as well."

Thompkins mentioned two players specifically that he feels his game most resembles.

"A lot of people tell me I play like Percy Harvin and Tavon Austin like mixed together. I think those two guys are like a perfect symbol for how I play," said Thompkins. "Speed and vision and getting to the outside an also having the ability to catch the ball."

Despite his fun experience over the weekend and being a local product of North Carolina, Thompkins won't be giving any teams a home-town advantage. He will instead make the best decision for his future no matter where that decision must take him.

"Distance has no factor. I just want to be comfortable no matter where I go so no matter where that is I'll be there," said Thompkins

What will make him feel comfortable?

"Academics and the way they set up their academics for their student-athletes," said Thompkins.

"Also, how is their football program doing? Not just making a lot of NFL players but are their college players getting better year after year, not just getting the top-ranked guys and letting them play. Their developing better athletes year after year."

Thompkins is putting a priority on academics but will also weigh into his decision how quickly he can leave his mark on a program.

Although he has no qualms about facing stiff competition once he steps foot on a campus, he would also like to have a realistic shot at playing sooner rather than later.

"Playing time, how fast will I get on the field? I'm not saying that I would like to just walk-on and not have any competition," said Thompkins. "I would love to have competition and have guys pushing me. But I don't want to have 17 other guys in front of me and have to wait until my senior year to actually step on the field."

Thompkins' list of potential landing spots features a few schools that will see each other on the field next year. While Thompkins has much respect for the rivalries that litter the landscape of college athletics, he won't put too much emphasis on the on-field results of these games while narrowing down his list of schools.

"Not at all. Some teams have bad days and some teams have great luck sometimes. You can't just put aside a school because one school beat another," said Thompkins

"But with those head-to-head match-ups, I hear a lot about them. Especially when UNC plays N.C. State. I have a whole bunch of N.C. State and UNC fans at school so their always asking me who I am rooting for and telling me I better be rooting for their team or there are going to be problems. But it's just great seeing two schools coming together that see me in their program and their going at it so I always look at those games more than any other games."

Thompkins will keep busy over the spring by going to several different combines, including the Combine April 14 in Charlotte, N.C.

Thompkins will look to improve his stock by attending this combines. He sees an opportunity to get better each day and will look to showcase that once he gets to the Queen City.

"Just develop as a better player. Make my technique sound. Getting better at the position that I'm doing. Not trying to get in front of anybody and always be first but if doing my best and getting better is being first then that's what I do," said Thompkins. "But as far as going to camps, what have I been doing wrong for a while, bad habits and how can I change that? How can I make myself better?"

It's obvious Thompkins is a highly-motivated individual and will ambitiously seek out a school that will help further his development as a student-athlete.

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