Thompson: "Let's do this thing"

Paul Thompson was offered the starting quarterback job at OU on Tuesday, and for the first time in eighth months he was throwing passes again for his beloved Sooners. See inside for Thompson's in-depth enter with OU's senior quarterback following Thursday's practice. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Senior Paul Thompson was offered the starting quarterback job at OU on Tuesday, and for the first time in eighth months he was throwing passes again for his beloved Sooners. Thompson was moved back from wide receiver to quarterback when starter Rhett Bomar was suspended from the program for accepting payment for work he didn't do.

For Thompson, it is the opportunity that he has always been waiting for. Thompson earned the starting job a year ago and started the season opener against TCU. However, the Sooners lost that game and Thompson didn't play well opening the door for Bomar. Eventually, Thompson asked to move to wide receiver and immediately earned playing time. Following spring football, Thompson had moved into a starting role and had made himself into a good receiver.

He has always been the consummate teammate and he is arguably the most beloved Sooner on the team. When he was named the starting quarterback, it seemed to energize the team.

Thursday was Thompson's first day under center, and following the practice he stopped to talk to about his new opportunity.

JH: From what I hear, it didn't take you long to decide to move back to quarterback?

PT: "I just thought it would give me an opportunity to play a position that I love — to get the ball more and to use my athletic ability and make some plays."

JH: Coach Stoops said that he made you wait 24 hours before making your decision. Did you take the entire 24 hours before deciding to move back to QB?

PT: "It took me a while. I wish it could have been longer. What happened did happen so soon, and with two-a-days starting as quick as they were it took me probably a full day to come to a decision. I needed a day to talk to my family to decide what I wanted to do."

JH: What was the main thing you had to think over, especially after coach Stoops told you the job was yours if you wanted it?

PT: "The main thing was the fact that I had not played quarterback in a while. I was at receiver and you have to switch your whole mindset to make that move. So when I made the move I was focused on receiver, and to switch it back that quick is pretty difficult, especially with the number of plays with have and with the ability to make plays with good decisions."

JH: How long has it been before today that you have actually thrown a pass?

PT: "I warmed up before we practiced during the summer, but as far as throwing routes it has been since we played Oregon. That was the last time I threw a real pass."

JH: Not even in seven-on-seven drills?

PT: "No, I haven't thrown one pass."

JH: Did it come back naturally for you today?

PT: "Yeah, it did. I felt real good out there. It felt natural. It felt pretty good."

JH: Did you throw one on Monday or whenever you first learned about this situation?

PT: "No, but my dad told me that I better get out there and throw something. He told me to throw at a tree, a house or something. He knows that I haven't thrown in a long time, except when I threw the ball back to the quarterbacks after they had thrown the ball to me. I haven't thrown routes from the pocket in a long time."

JH: You were still a leader at wide receiver, but now you become the leader of the team at quarterback don't you? Or does your leadership role really change that much?

PT: "I have been leading this team for a while now. I am not the only leader, but one of the leaders of this team and to come in at this position allows me to do that even easier. The guys respect me and I respect them. It is a good mutual future towards each other."

JH: How much does it help you that your teammates say they will fight to the very end for you?

PT: "That is flattering. I will do the same for them. I told them before practice today that I was going to ride out for y'all and y'all ride out for me. Let's do this thing. I am not worried what other people have to say or what other people think as far as fans. I am ready to ride out."

JH: Does a part of you look forward to seeing how this is going to ride out now that you are playing a position that you have always wanted to play?

PT: "Yeah, but again I had to totally shift my focus. I was in receiver mode, even up until yesterday. Just to switch back now is not easy, but I am ready for it and I am going to ride with it."

JH: Is it going to be different for you this time that now you don't have to look over your shoulder thinking somebody is going to replace you?

PT: "I am relaxed. This is going to be last year and I am just out here trying to have fun and trying to do the best that I can. I haven't really put too much pressure on myself or too much stress on myself. Other than that, I am just ready to roll."

JH: How shocked were you when coach Stoops called you into his office and told you the news?

PT: "It was a shock, but I had to switch gears quick. We did and the team rallied around and everybody rallied together. I think we are going to be alright."

JH: Is the mental part of this move the biggest hurdle of this move back to quarterback?

PT: "Yeah, it is just the mindset and re-focusing on playing quarterback. I thought I did a pretty good job today, but it is just hard to switch. Now I have had to switch a couple of times, and switching all around trying to stay focused is the hardest thing. Coming back out here, other than having to wear this blue jersey, I felt pretty good."

JH: Are you disappointed that you are not on the punt team any more as the up-back?

PT: "Yeah, they guys were teasing me a little bit with that. They actually had me on the punt team so I asked them if I had punt team today, but they told me that I didn't have that anymore. So, I am back in a blue jersey again and I am ready to go."

JH: You had some bad quarterback/center exchanges. Is that just part of getting back into the groove again?

PT: "That is part of getting back and doing it over and over again. We started off good today. We just need to step it up and finish on a strong note."

JH: How did thingsg go today overall?

PT: "I think they went pretty well, especially being the first day. We started off with one-on-ones and then seven-on-seven's before going to team. Then we went to some blitz, and for the offense to come out and click like we were says a lot. Most of the time, the defense is far more advanced. But today we played pretty solid."

JH: When did coach Stoops ask you about the switch?

PT: "It was early yesterday. It took a full day for me to totally go with the move. Coming to this position is my decision. I think it is the best move for me and certainly the best move for this team. There are no hard feelings toward anybody. The team is rallying all together. I don't think we are going to miss a beat."

JH: Now that you have played receiver, do you look at the offense differently?

PT: "No, not really. I think when I moved to receiver from quarterback I could see things a little better. But moving back there isn't much different in how I look at a defense."

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