Jordan Thompson was given a chance here at West Virginia, and he has been taking full advantage of that opportunity this offseason.
Thompson has some of the same skills that you'll see from other WVU receivers- he's fast, agile, and has the ability to get up the field. However, he's the smallest player in that group, being listed at just 5-foot-7 and 164 pounds- and that's after he says he put on 20 pounds since he arrived in Morgantown.
When you find yourself that much smaller than those you are lining up against, you have to change the way you play the game.
"There's just a mentality of playing bigger than you actually are," he said. "You know you're going to get hit, but they're going to hit you the hardest, you just have to bounce right back up."
It didn't matter how well Thompson performed at different camps and workouts. He couldn't escape his small frame. He felt that he did well in camps at LSU and Texas Tech, but wasn't given a look, presumably because of his size.
In fact, had West Virginia not offered him a scholarship, Thompson likely would have stayed in Texas to play for either Sam Houston State or Stephen F. Austin, both FCS schools, or played baseball, which he started playing even before football.
But he did get that offer, and he knew he could be successful because of another Mountaineer he had been watching.
"Some people doubted me," said Thompson. "They said, 'you're too small to play Division I football.' In my head, I was like no. I'm seeing Tavon (Austin) out there doing it. He's just my size. If he's out there doing it, now I can go prove these guys wrong."
Now, instead of watching Austin from home, Thompson is practicing with him, and learning from him. One of the things that the senior is working on with the freshmen Thompson- getting out of bounds before he takes a hit.
"Tavon's talked to me about that I don't need to take that many shots on the field because it's going to take a toll on your body," Thompson said. "I haven't mastered it like he has, but I'm getting there."
Thompson's not the first receiver WVU has had that is undersized. Obviously, Austin fits the mold as a player that is smaller than the average receiver, and Jock Sanders was a leading receiver in his time at West Virginia, and he didn't have the typical build, either.
Thompson is trying to follow in the footsteps of Sanders and Austin, and also trying to show the coaches that they won't be sorry for taking a chance on him.
"They gave me a chance to be where I am right now," he said, "and I'm just showing them that I'm not going to prove them wrong. They were right about giving me a chance."
It's not like he's just on the roster, either. Dana Holgorsen said that Thompson will be playing this fall, and his fellow receivers have been impressed with the way he plays, and with how he handles himself after a big hit.
"He's a tough guy," said Ryan Nehlen, "and he might have gotten his helmet taken off (in Monday's practice), but he was the first one up out of all of them, so he's a tough guy and he works hard."
"He is exciting," Nehlen continued. "He's a lot like Tavon out there. You know, run around quick, catch the ball, get up field. He's fun to watch."
It's hard to believe that someone so lightly recruited by Division I college football programs could be making such an impact on a team that is ranked 11th in the preseason poll, and that he's doing so in his first few months on campus.
It's not so hard to believe if you're Thompson, though. This is what he expected, and to him, he's just living up to his own expectations.
"It was my goal not to get redshirted and also to get playing time," he said. "I'm getting more reps in practice. In the spring I got a good amount of reps, but now in the fall, I'm seeing I'm getting even more reps on top of the reps I got in the spring, so I definitely feel like Dana, he's seeing that I can contribute to this football team."
Playing in an offense that will move the ball as much as this one is expected to do, there should be plenty of opportunities for Thompson to contribute.
He no longer has to worry about impressing the coaches or proving himself. He's already done that. At this point, it's time for Thompson to start worrying about producing on the field, which is exactly why the WVU coaches gave him this chance.
"In my outlook, West Virginia did give me a chance," he said. "They were the big school on my list that gave me a chance, and I was going to take full advantage of it."