Mykkele Thompson: 2011 Texas Recruiting Spotlight

Vitals

Name: Mykkele Thompson

Position: Athlete

Height: 6-1

Weight: 170

Speed: 4.5 40-yard dash

High School: SA Stevens

Rating (Rivals): Four out of five (5.8)

Overview/Recruitment

If you're talking about 2011 Texas commits who flew under the radar throughout the early part of the process, the list essentially begins and ends with SA Stevens athlete Mykkele Thompson. He first appeared on the radar near the end of a junior season that saw him line up at quarterback, wide receiver, and running back. San Antonio may be still under-recruited compared to other parts of the state, but not even Thompson could escape attention after a year that saw him account for more than 1,000 total yards passing, receiving, and running.

Thompson was under the radar long enough to commit to Texas at the first Junior Day in early February without receiving another offer, though he drew interest from schools like TCU, Texas A&M, Kansas State, and Nebraska. Like a lot of kids offered by the Longhorns, however, Thompson had long dreamed about going to school in Austin and committed on the spot when offered, becoming one of 13 players to do so at the first Junior Day.

Quotes:

On receiving his offer from Mack Brown ($):

My coach, he talked to coach (Duane) Akina a couple of times and he told me they were going to offer me, so I had to prepare myself for that moment. Even though I had something planned to say I didn't have the courage to say it. I was still at a loss for words.

I just had this whole thing to say as a thank you to coach (Mack) Brown and his wife and coach Akina, but it didn't come out because I couldn't stop smiling.

His thoughts on Texas:

Texas is a great school. They're hard working; and all the coaches are great, the atmosphere is great; and they're the type of team that is going to keep on winning a lot of games. They've been my No. 1 school for quite awhile now, and I just really wanted to be a part of that.

On where Texas sees him playing:

The position they see me at right now is on the defensive side like at corner or a free safety. They had me marked as an athlete, but they talked more about having me as a corner today.

Offers

  • Texas (committed 2/13/2010)

Scouting Report

The positives from Jeff Howe ($):

The best way to describe Thompson to somebody who hasn’t watched him in person is that he’s deceptively explosive. What I mean by that is for a guy who’s about 175 pounds and looks about 155, you wouldn’t think he’d have the kind of explosive playmaking ability he possesses.

 

He’s a really good leaper and I love the fact that on the offensive side of the ball he shows a willingness to go up and fight for the ball in a crowd. He also shows his toughness on defense but I think it says a lot about a guy when he’s willing to sacrifice himself over the middle of the field like Thompson does.

 

He’s a long strider which also makes him appear a hair slower than he actually is, but make no mistake that when he gets into the open field he’s as good as gone with the ball in his hands. He’s shown big-time ability in the return and he’s got some wiggle but he’s the type of athlete who tries to get vertical as quickly as possible.

 

One thing that really surprised me on tape is how well he grasps the safety position. For a guy who doesn’t play there much and spends a lot of time on offense, he doesn’t get out of position a lot and he displays good striking ability over the middle of the field.

 

Any time you have a guy who is used to having the ball in his hands, it translates to him having good ball skills as a defensive back and for me that’s where the intrigue lies with Thompson as a prospect. Right now he probably fits best a center-field type free safety because of his range and his potential to make plays over the top, but he’s also athletic enough and physical enough to play closer to the line of scrimmage and still have an impact.

 

He's a versatile guy who seems to just make plays wherever he is on the field.

ESPN evaluation ($):

Thompson is a really good athlete that is utilized in many roles in the offense including QB out of the wildcat shotgun, but will be a wide receiver at the next level. He has very good height, but a slender build and long legs. He has very good feet given his size. He has very good running ability, though his top speed is not in the elite class. He will compete for the ball and has good leaping ability. He is a good route runner, however at times he has to gear down to make a cut. He still has the ability to accelerate and get good separation out of his cuts. He has excellent body control and change-of-direction skills and is a threat with the ball in his hands after the catch. He can take a short gain and turn it into a big play. He has good hands and can make the over-the-shoulder catch and snatch the ball on the run. Will pluck on the move and looks to make things happen after the catch. Will extend at times to snag the high ball. Thompson is a tall, high cut athlete and as a result is not always fluid in his change-of-direction. He can make cuts and make people miss, but lacks rapid stop/start ability. He is straight-line fast in the open field and is capable of big plays, but may find it harder at the next level to make as many of them. Overall, Thompson is a good athlete no doubt. He will need to get in the weightroom to become more physical and strong. He is a confident player that wants the ball in his hands.

ATH Mykkele Thompson #2 *COMMITTED TO TEXAS* SA Stevens HS (SR Highlights) (via CountdownCityPreps)

As a note, Inside Texas has video of about every play from Thompson's junior season.

Strengths

  • Speed -- Although Thompson doesn't have elite top-end speed with a listed 4.5 40, his speed is probably his greatest asset and he was timed at 10.68 in the 100m in high school. He's a long strider who seems to glide, which sometimes made it difficult for defensive backs to take a proper angle against him in high school.
  • Versatility -- Thompson is tentatively pegged for the defensive side of the ball, where he could end up playing cornerback or safety. If the Longhorns decide they need another receiver because of poor play or transfers, Thompson could switch sides and contribute catching the football.
  • Fluidity: Defensive backs coach Duana Akina recruited Thompson and has seen him in practice and games, so there's no reason to doubt that Thompson has the fluidity and hips needed to have a chance to play cornerback in college. There's no guarantee that he can, but there's a solid chance and Akina would know as well as anyone.
  • Body control/change of direction -- Despite his lack of experience at cornerback, it's Thompson's ability to control his body with the football in his hands and as a receiver that helped make him appealing during the recruiting process. For a longer strider, Thompson also changes direction pretty well, obviously a major necessity when playing cornerback.
  • Overall athleticism -- Besides turning in his impressive 100m time, Thompson also finished 5th in the 5A long jump last year as a junior, further showing off his athleticism.

Weaknesses

  • Experience -- An offensive player in high school, Thompson didn't play defensive back much in high school and is considered raw in general, so he's going to have to learn the cornerback position from scratch if that's where he's going to play. The positive is that he did get a chance to work out at DB for Akina during the Texas summer camp and received some positive praise from the Texas coach.
  • Strength -- Thompson is still an extremely lanky guy and needs to add some muscle mass to compete in college and hold up over a long season.
  • Technique -- This is directly related to his lack of experience playing defensive back. Thompson doesn't have experience jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, sinking into a backpedal, or planting and exploding to make a play on the football. Fortunately for Texas, he will learn from one of the best in Jerry Gray.
  • Height -- Thompson is a bit taller than the prototypical cornerback and even though he does show good fluidity at times, at other times his high center of gravity makes it difficult to change direction. He doesn't have as much wiggle as some smaller guys with shorter strides.
  • Short-area explosiveness -- The best cornerbacks can change direction on a dime and Thompson has not always shown that ability at receiver in high school, making it questionable whether he can play the position in college.

Target weight: 185 pounds. Thompson has some serious work to do in the weight room. He's not as skinny as Bryant Jackson was entering the program, but he's not far off either. If he ends up playing safety, getting stronger will be a higher priority than if he ends up at cornerback or receiver.

Verdict

For a school that selects more than it recruits, it's often easy to identify players because they spend so much time on the recruiting radar, often emerging as the top players in the state during their sophomore seasons. Thompson is proof that at times the Texas assistant coaches can actually do a good job of evaluating and finding underappreciated talent.

Ultimately, Thompson's value will rest on the position at which he ends up. At cornerback, he could be extremely valuable because of his height and ability to contest jump balls. However, there are a ton of question marks about whether he can play that position and the fact of the matter is that there are few cornerbacks with his height -- he's just not the prototype.

As a safety, Thompson has less value because it's easier to find players to fill that position and while he could still be a strong contributor there, the contribution just isn't worth as much. There's also a chance that he could end up on the offensive side of the ball at receiver, a recent development since the staff changes. The word from Thompson is that the staff will have a discussion about where he starts.

Given the need at the cornerback position and how difficult it is to find cornerbacks with Thompson's height, it makes sense to start him out there and if he sticks, then the Longhorns have a major find on their hands. If not safety is a fall-back option. Playing him on offense seems like a long-shot because of the depth at the position, so it only makes sense to move him there if some attrition happens in this spring, otherwise he'd likely get buried on the depth chart, a possibility at safety as well.

Impact ETA: 2012 or 2013. Known as a raw athlete even at the wide receiver and quarterback positions, the main question with Thompson is how quickly he will adjust to playing on the defensive side of the ball. If he does indeed stick at cornerback and learns quickly, he could contribute in 2012 given the lack of depth at cornerback. However, if he ends up at safety or receiver, it could be 2013 or 2014 until he cracks the depth chart because of better depth at those positions

Read past Texas recruiting spotlights.

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