Thompson gets starting nod vs. Memphis

With starting wideout Keenan Holman nursing a sprained ankle, redshirt freshman Der'rikk Thompson will take his place. Thompson played the majority of last weekend's game and coach June Jones says he has a lot of speed and has stepped up this week in practice.

Der'rikk Thompson will get his chance to start this week.

The redshirt freshman hadn't really played football in two years until last weekend. He was injured his senior year of high school and redshirted last season, but when starting wide receiver Keenan Holman sprained his ankle on the first play of the Northwestern State game, Thompson took over the load.

"I was not in shape for that, oh no," Thompson said when asked how his body felt playing about 85 percent of the game. "It was my first time playing over 60-something plays. But I'm getting experience. I'm doing fine."

Lots of players look down on redshirting, but Thompson was glad he did it.

"People don't like it because they don't get to travel with the team and they may not feel like a part of the team," he said. "To me, I wanted to redshirt. It felt good. I learned a lot from the other wide receivers. It was beneficial."

It was unclear whether Thompson would be getting the start this weekend against Memphis, as coaches wanted to see how Holman's ankle would hold up all week. But Holman was in a boot from last Saturday after the game through Wednesday and though he dressed out in Thursday's practice, he didn't take any snaps.

When asked what Thompson will bring to the offense, coach June Jones didn't hesitate and blurted out, "speed."

"He's really stepped up in practice this week just from the experience of playing almost the whole game last week," Jones said. "Der'rikk can run and so when Keenan gets back, it'll strengthen the unit."

Memphis' secondary plays zone coverage rather than man-to-man, so Thompson's speed will allow him to make some big plays this weekend.

Fun Fact: A lot of the players call Thompson "Bird." You might think that could be a testament to how fast he is, as maybe they think he can just fly by defenders. But the nickname is more of a double-entendre.

"I guess I'll let out the real story," Thompson said. "When I was real young I lived in some apartments and I used to walk around with my shirt off and try to impress this little girl. Her older brother used to talk about my chest because I guess it was shaped like a bird because I wasn't filled in yet. He always called me bird and it just stuck on.

"And [receiver] Jeremy Johnson had known me throughout high school and it carried on up through there and everyone just started calling me bird and still do."

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