It’s been more than a week since freshman running back Ronald Thompkins joined the 110-man roster. How the 2019 season will go has been difficult to project for the 4-star running back. During the recruiting process, he was described by mentor and former coach Kenyatta Watson as the best football player on that loaded Grayson team.
Injuries kept him from showing that full potential through his high school career. He suffered his first knee injury as a junior. That season, Thompkins racked up 615 total yards and four touchdowns in four games. He battled back to return for his senior season. Bad luck struck again. He tore his ACL on his fifth carry of the first game, which ended his senior season.
In a way, Thompkins’ injury led to a deeper bond with the Nebraska staff. He was concerned initially that his injury last season would affect his scholarship to Nebraska. Those fears eased when Thompkins’ phone lit up with messages of support from the Huskers’ coaching staff after the game.
Now that Thompkins is in Lincoln the plan is to ease him back into action. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that he will redshirt this season. If he can be healthy while showing he can help the team in 2019, he will get his shot.
“We are building him up,” running backs coach Ryan Held said on Wednesday. “I told him again today that I’m going to give you every opportunity to build yourself up to have a chance to play this year. That guy is talented. We are just being smart and not having him do anything that puts him in jeopardy. It’s not that he’s done for the year and will redshirt. No, I’m going to see what he can do and build him up to see what we have there. We want as many weapons as we can. It’s a long season and there are matchup difficulties we want to present to the defense.”
If you have forgotten about the potential fit for Thompkins in Nebraska’s offense, here is what Watson told Hail Varsity back when Thompkins committed to the Huskers.
“It’s a perfect fit. He reminds me of Kenjon Barner that was at Oregon," Watson said. "He can play any position and doesn’t have to come off the field. Third down, he can stay out there. He is good at picking up the blitz and just does so many things well. That was the intriguing thing talking to Coach [Scott] Frost when I talked to him.”
Given the potential the Georgia native possesses, you can see why the staff is so excited to have him.
Thompkins is in full pads during practice now. He hasn’t taken contact yet as the offensive staff continues to build his stamina along with his knowledge of the playbook. Soon, Nebraska will turn him loose on the practice field to see what he’s got.
The Huskers are going to be smart with his recovery, but Thompkins will get his shot to show what he can do.