MORGANTOWN - Jordan Thompson has made huge strides as far as gaining weight and muscle are concerned since arriving at West Virginia just eight months ago.
O.K., so maybe huge isn't a word to be used when talking about Thompson, who still tops out at just 164 pounds and carries the Stedman Bailey-dubbed nickname of "Squirt.''
"Yeah, but when I got here they told me they thought I could be 175 pounds by the time I left in four years,'' Thompson said Tuesday. "I figure I'm almost there already.''
Indeed, the guy who is perhaps WVU's most-talked-about and ready-to-compete freshman showed up on campus with just 145 pounds on a 5-foot-7 frame. Even by Tavon Austin standards, that's tiny. Austin was signed as a 5-9, 170-pounder out of Baltimore and 31/2 years later is listed at 5-9 and 174.
Save for the extra two inches, they already have pretty much identical frames.
Apparently they already have pretty much identical games, too.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen was asked this week if, after less than a week of practice, any of the true freshman receivers had shown already that they were ready to play.
"No, except for Squirt,'' Holgorsen said "That guy is something. He'll play obviously as a true freshman.''
Just as was the case with Austin three years ago when he made his debut, there are obvious questions about Thompson's durability. In a game in which even some cornerbacks dwarf him - not to mention the safeties and linebackers he'll face as he crosses the middle as a slot receiver - perhaps the No. 1 thing Thompson has to learn is to survive.
It's not an easy task.
"Just [Monday] I got hit twice pretty good by [linebacker] Jared Barber and [safety] Darwin Cook,'' Thompson said. "My helmet actually popped off [with the Cook hit], but it's all right. You just have to bounce back up.''
"It's just a mentality. You have to have the mentality that you're going to survive. You know there are going to be a lot of people who are stronger and bigger than you. You have to have the mentality of playing bigger than you are. You know you're going to get hit, but you just have to bounce back up.''