'That’s my guy': Pat Fields tried to recruit his friend to OU. Casey Thompson will now try to beat him.
NORMAN — It’s easy for OU safety Pat Fields to remember his first high school interception at Tulsa Union.
It came off a throw from then-Southmoore quarterback Casey Thompson.
“Not to talk trash or anything, but that’s my guy,” Fields said earlier this week when asked about Thompson, who is now the starting quarterback for Texas.
Fields tried to recruit Thompson to join him at OU, to continue his father Charles’ legacy as a Sooners’ quarterback.
But Thompson went his own way and it’s finally paying off.
Saturday, he’ll be the Longhorns’ starting quarterback against Fields and the Sooners in their annual showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (11 a.m., ABC).
And while most of the talk surrounding Thompson and this game centers on his Sooner State roots, and most of the talk surrounding the Longhorns’ offensive production centers around running back and potential Heisman candidate Bijan Robinson, Thompson figures to have plenty of say in how the game plays out.
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Thompson transferred from Southmoore to Newcastle to finish his high school career. He hasn't made a similar move in college, sitting behind Sam Ehlinger for three seasons, playing four games in 2019 and just two in the regular season last year.
When Ehlinger injured his shoulder in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado, Thompson came in and looked like he had earned the starting quarterback job.
Thompson helped turn what was a seven-point game at halftime into a 32-point rout, throwing for 170 yards and four touchdowns after halftime.
But when coach Tom Herman was forced out in Austin and Steve Sarkisian replaced him, the slate was wiped clean. That upper hand on the quarterback job faded and eventually Hudson Card won the job.
But Thompson waited his turn once more.
After Card struggled in a loss to Arkansas, Thompson took over and has excelled. In his three games as a starter, Thompson is 45 of 63 (71.4%) for 609 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Longhorns have averaged more than 53 points per game in that span, winning all three games.
“I’m glad to see him having the success that he’s having,” Fields said. “In this day and age, the easier thing to do is hit the (transfer) portal, but he sat behind Sam and he learned the offense.
"Even this year, he didn’t come out and start Day 1, but he’s always putting his head down and working. I think that’s a testament to who he is as a person and his character and who he is as a man.”
Thompson’s continued growth was apparent in the fourth quarter of last week’s 32-27 win over TCU, when he fired a quick, decisive strike over the middle to Jordan Whittington for a 32-yard touchdown that proved to be the game-winner.
“I actually couldn’t see him,” Thompson said of Whittington. “I just knew where to put the ball, and he ran into it and made a good play.”
It showed trust and confidence that Thompson might not have been able to display earlier in his career.
While Ehlinger was known for making plays outside the pocket and hurting teams with his legs as well as his arm — he ran for 323 yards and 12 touchdowns in five career meetings with the Sooners — Thompson is more of a pocket passer.
“He’s a different kind of mobile,” Sooners defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas said. “He can also stay in the pocket and sling it. We’ve got to be aware of him triggering if he feels pressure. We’ve got to be disciplined, staying low, tackling, finishing. Not running by the quarterback but not getting too deep inside so he can roll out. Staying disciplined is big for us this week with a quarterback like him. He’s so versatile in that pocket.”
Thompson and Sooners coach Lincoln Riley developed a relationship when Riley tried to get Thompson to flip from the Longhorns.
“I don’t wish him success on Saturday. We’re going to get out there and compete against each other,” Riley said. “But I’m happy for him. I’m glad he’s having success. And I’m not surprised.”