Florida Football Countdown 'Til Kickoff: 6) 'Old Man' Thompson Ready for Big Things

By Brett Kaplan

It’s less than a week away, 6 days until the Florida Gators open up play against the Florida Atlantic Owls. These are my top 20 reasons to be excited about this upcoming season. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment.

WR Deonte Thompson has taken a lot of criticism during his five years at Florida. As a redshirt senior and the leader of Florida’s receiving corps, Thompson is known as the “old man” of the group. And after coming to the Gators with high expectations and blazing speed, Thompson hasn’t quite lived up to the hype yet. Florida fans will tell you he leads the team in dropped passes every year. His career numbers: 80 career receptions for 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns. Not a bad season for a number one receiver. But this is over his entire career.

That’s why this year he took his workouts up another gear. He trained with NFLers Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper, Louis Murphy and Cornelius Ingram. All the negativity during the previous four years had caught up with him. And working with these former teammates and NFL stars rejuvenated Thompson and made him the leader of a very unproven, yet talented receiving corps. Fellow fifth year senior Chris Rainey and Thompson are expected to lead these receivers and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis jokes with them about their age:

“The only person who gives us a hard time is Coach (Charlie) Weis. He gives me and Rainey a hard time everyday, saying we’re old guys, man, saying we played college ball when he was in college.”

I really like seeing this. It means chemistry is high at Florida. Thompson retorted to Weis:

“I’m not that old, man. I’m still young. It’s just my time is running out here.”

But Thompson has been a mentor for one WR who’s breaking out this season. Quinton Dunbar has worked his way into the conversation for the three best receivers on the team. And Dunbar gives a lot of credit to Thompson for guiding him:

“Since I got on campus, Deonte grabbed me under his wing. That’s the only person I really hang around. We do everything together. Like he said, he’s like my older brother. He’s taught me route-running, adjusting to the ball, just different things as a receiver.”

And Thompson is poised for a breakout season, as is the entire receiving corps:

“The chemistry is a lot better. We’re clicking on a lot of cylinders right now”

Here’s to hoping Thompson gets over his case of the dropsies and really leads this football team. He and Brantley, another expected leader, have developed chemistry over the years and have been heavily criticized. Brantley sympathizes with Thompson:

“Deonte and I are real close. We’ve been to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. We’ve been through it all together and we want to be able to stick it out with each other the rest of this last year.”

Thompson is eager to get this season started and make Florida fans remember him for all of the right reasons:

“I feel like I can be successful this year. Last year, if you asked me I’d say the same thing. I don’t go into the season thinking this isn’t going to be my year. This is the last go-round. Gotta make it happen. I just want to be one of the top receivers in the SEC. I just want to win. When you win, everything falls in place.”

Amen Deonte.

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