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Keytaon Thompson focused on playing wide receiver for Tony Elliott

It sounds like UVA’s new staff will look to use the do-it-all offensive weapon first and foremost as a wide receiver.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After a stellar second season with the Virginia Cavaliers where he split duties as a runner and a receiver, Keytaon Thompson appears set to transition to more snaps as a wide receiver in Tony Elliott’s new offense.

Elliott is clearly incredibly fond of Thompson and both his athletic ability and understanding of the game of football. Last week at the ACC’s media kickoff event in Charlotte, Elliott stated that Thompson “is an extremely, extremely talented football player,” who boasts “an additional sense that not every football player has,” with “a sense of just how to make plays.”

Where Elliott is hoping Thompson continues to develop is with the minutiae of playing the wide receiver position and focusing in on the position. “Where he needed to improve was just the technical aspect of the position,” he noted last Thursday, adding “because at his size there’s going to be some times where he may not have the advantage against a smaller, quicker guy. Now he has to be able to [utilize] a different skill set to create space.”

Elliott said that, so far, Thompson has taken on the challenge well. “The biggest area I’ve seen him grow is just accepting that challenge to become a technician at the position. I already know you are a great football player. You have a great football mind. He just has that sense. He has that knack. Now can we add the technical aspect of it to complete your game?”

Thompson confirmed that “me and Coach Elliott have a great relationship,” as he said that working with the new staff has “been great,” and that “I just really want to be prepared to play wherever the coaching staff needs me to play at.”

Of course, as he has been such a versatile player in his time in Charlottesville — catching 78 passes for 990 yards and rushing 39 times for 247 last season — Thompson has a lot going for him on the football field as he’s capable of making a difference wherever he lines up.

With that said, he confirmed what Elliott said about honing in on the wide receiver position, noting how “right now I’m really focused on wide receiver and just really developing my skills there,” while still “definitely working athletically for whatever the coaching staff throws at me.”

As for how he’s fine-tuning his skills as a receiver, Thompson pointed to route running as “a big part of that,” with the challenge of “hand fighting, the whole nine.” He mentioned how “for the most part I feel like the running back and quarterback thing just kind of comes naturally,” so he’s “working on a lot of the unnatural things, like coming in and out of breaks, sinking my hips. I really just have been focusing on that, the receiving part of it and the technicalities.”

Considering how successful Thompson has been so far in his career as a Wahoo, the fact that he’s only now addressing the finer details of the receiver position should be a scary proposition for Virginia’s opponents. Alongside Dontayvion Wicks, a returning Lavel Davis Jr., Billy Kemp IV, and Malachi Fields, Thompson will once again make up a scary good receiving core that is only getting better with Tony Elliott in charge.