AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson is experiencing plenty of firsts in 2021. Saturday’s Red River Showdown will be his biggest one.
Thompson grew up in Oklahoma City, and his father, Charles Thompson, was the starting quarterback for the Sooners from 1986 to 1988. His brother, Kendal, played wide receiver for Oklahoma before transferring to Utah.
Thompson’s been traveling to Fair Park in Dallas for the annual showdown for years — and sitting in the Crimson portion of the Cotton Bowl.
“I was born into a family of football so I really didn’t have a choice,” Thompson said. “I went to the game starting when I was a kid, about five or six years old.”
However, once Thompson started to come into his own as a football player and as a person, he started to broaden his horizons beyond the crimson and white of the Sooners.
“Once I started getting recruited, I took favorites out of the picture,” Thompson explained. “I never really grew up hating Texas, you know the horns down [gesture] was just something that was a hand symbol, so I never really grew up hating the team. I’ve never been like that.”
Even after committing to Texas in high school, and preparing for his first start against his father’s former team, Thompson remains mild mannered about one of the most intense rivalries in sports.
“Even now, that I’m at Texas, I wouldn’t say that I hate OU, I just try to focus on doing my job. At the end of the day, I’m a competitor. I want to win and, also, I want to start and so that’s what it comes down to.”
Although that doesn’t mean that once he made his choice to don the burnt orange while still living in Sooner country, it didn’t make things a little awkward before moving to Austin.
“The first game that I went to that felt weird was when I was committed in 2017 and Sam Ehlinger was a freshman and he was starting and Baker Mayfield was that quarterback for OU,” Thompson said. “I sat right by the 50-yard line and I was on the Texas side literally by two seats and I was there obviously on my recruiting trip as a visitor, but that game felt a little bit different. Ever since then, you know, I’ve been on the Texas side and everything’s been pretty normal for me.”
He may take a level-headed approach to the rivalry personally, but Thompson is well aware of the feelings of his old acquaintances back in Oklahoma when he runs out of the tunnel at the Cotton Bowl wearing a Texas Longhorns uniform.
“Obviously, I came from Oklahoma, they’re very passionate and strong about that school. I remember in high school, when I was getting recruited, some of my best friends and teachers were like, ‘If you go to that school, I’ll never root for you, never cheer for you,’ so, naturally, I imagine there will be people from home, probably from my hometown, even from my own high school, who may not cheer for me, but I’m really not [focusing] on people who are hating. I’m trying to focus on this team and the people who care about me, and who love and support me.”
As you can imagine, Thompson has received plenty of pointers from his father, although they don’t talk that much about the rivalry.
“I’ll just turn on a full game and watch him from start to finish and I’ll literally like write down stuff or take videos and send it to him like, ‘hey, you missed this throw,'” Thompson said laughing. “It’s a dream come true for me to be a part of this tradition of great quarterbacks who have been able to play and start in this game. There have been a lot of great players that…who made their name in this game and I’m looking to do the same this week.”
Texas and Oklahoma will meet at 11 a.m. at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.