But there was a slight problem.
At 5-foot-11, he weighed only 163 pounds. So strength coach Dwight Galt sat down with Thompkins, explained the importance of getting physically bigger and stronger, and designed a program for the youngster to get there.
We both felt that size was what mattered, Thompkins said. Speed was always there, but we did need to bulk up a little bit. That was very important.
More than a year and a half later, the North Carolina native is tipping the scales at 189 pounds. And coming off a redshirt season, he is poised to make an impact as a speed receiver in the Nittany Lion offense and possibly as a punt return man.
We caught up with Thompkins during Penn State Media Day at Beaver Stadium Thursday, and asked him about redshirting last season, adding size and his projected role on the Nittany Lion offense.
Though he was not willing to share times, he insisted that his is as fast as ever.
Get to know Thompkins in our one-on-one interview above.