By leaving Texas, veteran Casey Thompson yields to Horns’ younger yet unproven talent
Casey Thompson isn’t waiting for spring football to engage in another Texas quarterback derby. He’s out.
Thompson, a junior who started 10 games for the Longhorns this season, has put his name into the transfer portal, a team spokesman confirmed on Friday.
Thompson’s decision comes two days after Texas signed two highly-coveted quarterbacks — Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers and California product Maalik Murphy. The Horns also still have Hudson Card, a redshirt freshman who won the job initially this summer before giving way to Thompson in week three.
“Right now, I’m not going to comment on it,” Charles Thompson, Casey’s father, told the American-Statesman. “We just feel it’s in his best interest to seek something else.”
This is the second time that Thompson, an Oklahoma native, has put his name in the transfer portal. He once explored the possibility of transferring to Oklahoma and playing for his father’s alma mater, but eventually stuck with UT.
“At the end of the day, I feel confident he’ll have some viable opportunities,” Charles Thompson said. “We wish the best of luck to Texas and what they’ve got going. Sometimes, you’ve got to know when you need to find something better.”
Thompson’s journey at Texas started in 2018 when he signed with then-coach Tom Herman. He served as Sam Ehlinger’s backup for three years, playing mostly mop-up duty.
But Thompson was electric when an injured Ehlinger passed the reins for the second half of the 2020 Alamo Bowl. Thompson engineered five scoring drives, four going 75 yards or longer and resulting in touchdowns.
That performance alone left many believing he would have a leg up over Card going into the 2021 season. But Texas went through a coaching change, and everyone was back to square one under Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian chose Card as his season-opening starter against Louisiana. Getting through that game was relatively easy. But Card looked rattled and ill-equipped the following week in a disastrous loss at Arkansas. Thompson became the starter the next week against Rice.
Against OU, Thompson suffered a thumb injury that limited his effectiveness the rest of the season. Still, he gutted it out and finished the 5-7 campaign with 2,113 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Before the Kansas State finale, Sarkisian said he would reopen the quarterback competition in the spring. “I mean, I heard what he said. A lot of people sent it to me,” Thompson said after the K-State game. “We’ll have a conversation after the season.”
The dynamics of the quarterbacks room changed in December, though.
Ewers was a five-star recruit while at Southlake Carroll and once was considered the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit for the 2022 class. But he reclassified his eligibility in order to enroll early at Ohio State, where he sat the bench this season as the Buckeyes' fourth-stringer but cashed in several name, image and likeness deals.
Ewers saw little future in Columbus once C.J. Stroud won numerous Big Ten offensive awards, so he went into the portal. Texas made a full-court push and landed Ewers, who grew up wanting to be a Longhorn anyway.
Murphy stuck with UT despite all the Ewers hysteria. He led his team to a state championship last weekend and then signed Wednesday with the Longhorns. Both Ewers and Murphy are expected to enroll at UT for the spring semester to go through spring practice.
“We’re lucky we got two great quarterbacks,” Sarkisian said on Wednesday. “Quinn and Maalik are both fantastic players.”
Sarkisian is used to managing multiple quarterbacks at the same time. While with Alabama, he had Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones all in Tuscaloosa. All three are now starting in the NFL.
There’s no doubt that Sarkisian relayed that story numerous times throughout the recruiting process.
“We believe in our ability to develop the quarterback and then I think that both these young men saw that,” Sarkisian said.
Briefly: Also on Friday, UT tight end Jared Wiley put his name into the transfer portal. In 12 games the last three seasons, he had 19 receptions for 248 yards with three touchdowns. Wiley announced on Twitter that he’ll be a graduate transfer.