AUSTIN (KXAN) — After four years as a Texas Longhorn, Casey Thompson will take the field as a starting quarterback Saturday when Texas hosts Rice at 7 p.m.
Thompson says it will be his first start since November 2017 — back when he was a senior at Newcastle High School in Oklahoma City.
“I just think it’s a testament to perseverance and hard work and I’m excited for this team and the opportunity to bounce back,” Thompson said.
Last year, when Sam Ehlinger left the Alamo Bowl with an injury, Thompson stepped up and delivered a nearly flawless performance against Colorado. He completed eight of 10 passes for 170 yards, throwing four touchdowns in the blowout over the Buffaloes. The four touchdowns tied a Texas bowl game record.
It seemed Thompson would be the front runner in the starting quarterback competition going into the season, but throughout the spring and preseason, Thompson and redshirt Hudson Card were neck and neck for the role of QB 1.
Shortly after training camp concluded, head coach Steve Sarkisian announced that he was going to go with Card as the starter, but vowed to give Thompson playing time.
The news was disappointing to Thompson but he was determined to not let it bring him down, knowing he was going to get his shot if he kept working.
“I’m already in this thing and I’ve waited my opportunity and I’ve waited so long there’s no way I could quit and let up at this point [when he wasn’t named the starter],” Thompson explained. “My thought process was yeah, it hurt for a second and I’m going to let it sting, but I’m going to wake up the next day…I took a day to think about it and soak it all in. Then, as soon as that Monday [came] around, I just woke up and went back to work.”
Thompson listened when Sarkisian told him to stay prepared because he will still see time on the field, using whatever reps he would get to give himself a chance to earn the starting job.
“My mindset was if I’m not going to be named week 1 and it’s not going to be given to me, then I’m going to have to go take it myself,” Thompson added. “I have to show my teammates that I’m going to continue to work hard and be the best I can be every day.”
Then came the Arkansas game, with Card and the Longhorn offense struggling mightily, Sarkisian called Thompson’s number late in the second half. The backup came in and led Texas on multiple scoring drives, completing five of eight passes and rushing for two touchdowns.
After his performance in backup duty against Louisiana and Arkansas, Sarkisian announced Monday that Thompson will now take the reins as the starter.
“This is a dream come true for me, not just because I’m being named the starting quarterback, just because the place I get to do it at, you know playing in big time games on the road, on ESPN, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Of course, this move is made after an ugly loss Texas suffered at the hands of the Razorbacks, but Thompson is echoing his coach’s message of steadiness and consistency as they prepare for a potential bounce back game against Rice.
“I think that this week, we don’t need to try to reinvent the wheel, we don’t need to panic,” Thompson said. “I’m excited to be back at home in front of our home crowd, and this is a perfect opportunity to bounce back and showcase to everybody what we can do.”
Texas will face Rice at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m.