A crowded running back room got a little smaller on Wednesday with the announcement that Ronald Thompkins has entered the transfer portal.
— Ronald (RT)Thompkins ll (@jrthompkins5) May 19, 2021
“Nebraska has changed my life and brought a lot of joy,” Thompkins wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “I’m excited to see where my next stop will be.”
Thompkins had an up-and-down spring, which was really the case of his Husker tenure. He joined the program in 2019, though while recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss nearly his entire senior season of high school ball. In each of his final two years at Grayson High School in Georgia, he suffered torn ACLs.
During his first year and in the run up to the 2020 season, Nebraska running backs coach Ryan Held said that had Thompkins not been injured, he might have proven too talented for Nebraska to land him. Held often spoke glowingly of Thompkins’ ability.
At 5-foot-11 and feeling healthy going into his redshirt freshman season, Thompkins emerged as the No. 2 ball-carrier behind senior Dedrick Mills heading into last season’s opener at Ohio State. He rushed four times for 22 yards in that game, missed the Huskers’ next game against Northwestern, then logged just one carry a week later against Penn State and faded. First-year running back Marvin Scott III took Thompkins’ snaps as the year wore on.
This spring, Thompkins found himself right in the middle of a crowded backfield that seemingly had little separation between the top and bottom. Consistency again proved a challenge, as Thompkins would miss practice throughout the period. He carried the ball four times for 32 yards in the May 1 Red-White Spring Game, but looked to have slid down the depth chart behind the likes of another first-year player in Gabe Ervin Jr. and redshirt freshman walk-on Jaquez Yant.
Nebraska will also add Markese Stepp, a USC transfer, back into the fold this fall after surgery forced Stepp to miss the spring.
Thompkins is the third known Husker player to enter the portal since spring ball ended, joining wideouts Demariyon Houston and Jamie Nance. Tight end Kurt Rafdal also announced a transfer shortly after spring ball started.