December 7, 2009

Thompkins visit includes the unexpected

Site unseen, Kenbrell Thompkins last month committed to the University of Tennessee football program.

Now that the junior college wide receiver has visited Knoxville, Thompkins indicated he won't waste any time in returning to join the Volunteers.

"I'm pumped up, I'm pumped up and it's a blessing just to have the opportunity to graduate in December and I'm ready to get to Knoxville as soon as I can," said the 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pounder. "My visit was great. It was more than I expected. I mean, I expected to have a good time, but I was blown away. The coaching staff and everything, they're great guys and everything like that. The facilities blew me away. There's a lot of construction going on, but I liked everything.

"This was my first time visiting Knoxville, and it was a great experience for me."

Appearing in all 11 of El Camino (Calif.) Community College's games during the 2009 season, Thompkins emerged as unquestionably the favorite target of quarterbacks Matt Simms and Bo Napoleon. Thompkins paced El Camino in receivers' triple crown categories: catches (69), yards (1,020) and touchdowns (nine).

"My biggest strength is leadership, big-play capability," he said. "Making a short catch into a long gain. I mean, not only that but I'm real aggressive. Physical. Electrifying and all of the above."

And Thompkins found it a positive sign that UT head coach Lane Kiffin will work closely with the Vols' wideouts in the wake of position coach Frank Wilson's abrupt departure to LSU. Wilson was the first of two Tennessee assistant coaches who jettisoned the Vols this weekend; running backs coach/special teams coordinator Eddie Gran accepted a position at Florida State.

"Coach Kiffin said he'll be working with the receivers, so that's just great to have the head coach working with the position that I will be playing," he said. "I'm pretty sure coach Kiffin did good at the University of Southern California when he was there with the receivers, so I'm pretty sure coach Kiffin's got everything under control."

Though just in town during the weekend for his official visit, Thompkins said his host, Denarius Moore, gave him a good idea of what playing at Tennessee is about.

"Basically he just was telling me that it's a great place to play, the tradition and everything. To play at Tennessee and running out of the 'T' and everything like that," Thompkins explained. "He talked very highly of coach (Lane) Kiffin. He said a lot of things that they go over, the concepts of the game that they go over, is a lot of NFL concepts, and everything should be getting better from this point on."

From this point, Thompkins has little time before his return. After meeting with UT's coaches, Thompkins left Knoxville with a short turnaround planned before he makes East Tennessee his home for the next two years.

"Actually, me and the coaches talked things over. I fly out of California on Dec. 16 and I will probably fly to Knoxville on Dec. 18 and be participating in the bowl practices," Thompkins said.

Thompkins is a four-star wideout and No. 9 on the top 50 junior college players rankings.

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