The 90 Illini #65: Khmari Thompson

Jun 28, 2022

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It's amazing how much Kerby Joseph has revitalized my "you just never know when the light bulb might turn on" stance. I probably take more heat for that than anything else I write. There's an entire squad of "if a player sucks as a redshirt freshman, he's probably going to suck as a redshirt senior" opponents who will battle me on this point whenever I bring it up.

This year, thanks to Kerby (and, honestly, the 2018 offensive line), there's new fuel for my "just wait and see" fire. The 2018 line, which was mostly the 2017 recruiting class, was my Custer's Last Stand of "just wait until they're seniors." I screamed "hold... hold... hold..." until I was hoarse and now, with my voice back, I plan to yell "four of the five have been drafted and the fifth will be drafted next spring" until I lose my voice again.

With Kerby, it was more of a nothing... nothing... nothing... EVERYTHING kind of thing. Last year, on The 90 Illini, I had Kerby 47th. 47th!! Re-rank the season and he's easily #1. But I had him at 47, which is the last spot in the two-deep. 22 starters, 22 backups, kicker, punter, and longsnapper = 47. And I had Kerby as the last (or first!) player on that list.

Then, out of absolutely nowhere, a top-5 individual defensive season in the last 12 years. Here's the list I came up with in April:

(If Jake Hansen had played the final four games of 2019 he would have been able to make a good argument for this list, but he was injured, and that keeps him off.)

What does any of this have to do wth Khmari Thompson? My renewed belief that any player could Kerby at any moment. I have Thompson at #65. He hasn't done much in his four years of college football (two at Missouri, two at Illinois). But you never know.......

65. Khmari Thompson

Wide Receiver
Uniform number: 4
Year in school: Junior (without the Covid waiver, 1 year to play 1; with the Covid waiver, technically 2 years to play 2)
Height: 6'-1" -- Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia
High School: Central Gwinnett HS
Transfer from: Missouri
Five best offers: Missouri, Purdue, Kansas State, Tulane, Georgia Southern
Tom Cruise rating:

2021 statistics: Played in 6 games on special teams, no receiving statistics.


He played the 2018 and 2019 seasons at Missouri. Didn't find the field, so he entered the brand new Transfer Portal. Picked Illinois, and as soon as he got here, the Covid season hit.

He did find the field that year (2020) as a kick returner, though. He returned 12 kickoffs that season for 234 yards. But those have been his only statistics so far in his two years at Illinois. He's played some snaps at WR, but doesn't have any receptions (yet).

2022 Outlook

If he's going to crack the WR rotation, this is the year to do it. Receivers from last year who left in the offseason:

Donny Navarro
Deuce Spann
Carlos Sandy
Dalevon Campbell
Jafar Armstrong
Marquez Beason
Desmond Dan

None of those were seniors. They all had at least one year of eligibility and entered the portal to look for catches elsewhere. As did third-leading receiver Daniel Barker.

So this is the opportunity for Thompson. Of the receivers in the rotation last year, only Isaiah Williams, Casey Washington, and Pat Bryant return. There are snaps and catches to be had. Now is the time to Kerby.


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