WVU freshman receiver earns starting bid
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Upon first glance, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen tempered his enthusiasm about freshman wideout Jordan Thompson.
Since their first encounter in the spring, Holgorsen's expectations have been raised substantially.
Thompson, in fact, impressed his coach to the extent that he will be a starter for Saturday's noon opener against Marshall at Milan Puskar Stadium.
“If you would have had me rank Jordan with the rest of the receivers that came in and judge them 1-5, what I thought their speed was, I probably would have been wrong,” Holgorsen said.
Thompson, it appears, is a fast learner as well as a fast runner.
He enrolled at WVU in January, so he was able to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and get ready for spring drills.
“He adjusted to the speed of the game,” Holgorsen said. “A lot of it had to do with being here in the spring, learning things, understanding where to go and how to get there. He's a definite starter.”
After familiarizing himself with the offense, Thompson went about learning his role.
“The key thing was how to grow up fast in order to get playing time as a freshman,” said Thompson, who, at 5-foot-7, 164 pounds, averaged a touchdown every 3.9 receptions en route to 17 TDs as a senior at Katy (Texas) High School. “People usually think (freshmen) are too immature, they're still developing, young. I knew that was what most coaches thought, and I needed to show I can develop really fast.”
Surrounded by talented wideouts Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Thompson eased into a supporting role seamlessly.
Stationed inside, he figures to find open spaces as defenses converge on WVU's veteran receivers.
“Stedman and Tavon are the two biggest playmakers in the nation,” Thompson said. “You know (defenses) are going to be keying them. Knowing that they know that, I'm going to have opportunities to make plays. I'm just going to have to execute.”
Austin, a converted running back, said Thompson made a quicker transition to college ball than he did.
“He already had it,” Austin said. “He played wide receiver his whole life. He knew how to find coverages, sit in the hole, stuff like that. He'll definitely be OK.”
Despite his fast start, Thompson said things aren't as easy as he's making them appear. For Saturday's opener, for instance. Thompson freely admits to having freshman jitters.
“My first college game, I'm going to be nervous,” he said. “Once I get that first snap underneath me, I'll probably be fine. I'm a smarter player now, more comfortable with the playbook. The more reps I get, the more comfortable I become.”
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.