It isn't difficult to figure out what the most polarizing story line will be this fall, when Utah starts up fall camp in the beginning of August, as all eyes will be set upon the quarterback battle that will take place between Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson and incumbent starter Travis Wilson. After starting the year on fire, and looking like an upper echelon PAC 12 quarterback, Wilson struggled with turnovers after injuring his hand against BYU, and was ultimately sidelined after a preexisting neural condition was discovered, after suffering a concussion against Arizona State. Wilson was cleared for non-contact drills 3 months later, and although he is expected to receive full medical clearance this summer, there is still some question marks as to whether or not he is the guy. Enter Kendal Thompson from Oklahoma.
Now, those who have paid attention pretty much know all the circumstances that lead to Thompson transferring to Utah, but just in case you don't, I'll review them for you. In his junior year at Southmoore High School in Moore, Oklahoma, Kendal Thompson accepted a verbal offer from the hometown Sooners, and was named an Under Armour All American. After enrolling early, and sitting behind four year starter Landry Jones for two seasons, it was finally Thompson's time to earn the starting job. Thompson competed against fellow QB's Blake Bell and Trevor Knight, and after a good spring camp, Thompson was considered by many to be the favorite to win the starting job in the fall, but fate had different plans for Thompson.
In the very first practice of fall camp, Thompson fractured his foot and required immediate surgery, thus thus ending his hope to be the starting QB for the 2013 season. However, that wasn't the end of Kendal Thompson at Oklahoma, as inconsistency and injury at the QB position for Oklahoma meant that Thompson would get one more small opportunity to showcase his skills. Thompson's first collegiate playing time came in the 4th quarter of a blowout win over Iowa State, and he took advantage, as he lead his team on a touchdown drive, which included a 44 yard pass, 21 yards on two carries and was capped off by a 3 yard TD pass to his tight end. In the last game of the regular season, Thompson would be given another opportunity to showcase his talent, as starter Trevor Knight suffered a concussion against rival Oklahoma State, and Thompson was given the nod to replace Knight in the second half of the game. It was the perfect opportunity for Thompson to possibly earn the starting job, and if you had to ask him about it, he probably wishes it would have gone a bit different. Thompson was able to lead his offense to one scoring drive, but his individual stats were not what he had probably hoped they'd be. Thompson finished the game 2 of 9 for 17 yards and one interception, and watched from the sideline as fellow QB Blake Bell finished the game at QB.
(Click blue button to watch Kendal's practice highlights at Oklahoma)
(In Game Highlights)
That would be the last time Thompson saw playing time as a Sooner, as redshirt freshman starter Trevor Knight led the Sooners to a dominant win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and was primed to be the starter in 2014 and beyond. Being a full year, eligibility wise, ahead of Knight, Thompson decided his best shot at being a starting quarterback would be elsewhere, and decided to transfer.
After hearing from over 40 schools, and going through an extensive process of narrowing down his options, Thompson committed to the Utes after an official visit to Salt Lake City. He wasn't guaranteed the starting spot by head coach Kyle Whittingham, but was merely guaranteed the ability to legitimately compete for the starting spot.
As far as what Thompson brings to the table as a QB, the first thing that jumps out on film is his elusiveness and ability to escape a collapsing pocket. He also displays good arm strength in his practice film, although he does have a bit of a "short arm" throwing motion. Thompson has also received praise from past coaches and teammates for his determination to watch and study film. Because of that determination, Thompson was given the nickname "Thurm" while at Oklahoma. The biggest area for improvement in Thompson's game would be his accuracy, particularly on his deep passes.
Prediction: If there is one thing that I can guarantee right now, it's that the battle between Thompson and Wilson is going to be a fierce one, and no matter the outcome, the QB battle will make Utah a better team. Competition brings out the best in players, and it won't be any different in this situation. Now, I could give you some clichés and cop outs and not actually make a prediction on the QB battle, but I'm not going to do that. Wilson has the experience on his side, but don't automatically discount Thompson because of how things ended at Oklahoma. He's an extremely talented quarterback, and has many qualities that would make Utah a better offense with him at the helm. The same could be said about Wilson as well. With both Thompson and Wilson being extremely talented, I have to go with my gut feeling on this prediction, and that feeling is that Thompson will win the QB battle, and will be the starter versus Idaho State in Week 1. I can very much see both QB's winning the battle, but I'm sticking with my gut on this one. One thing is for sure though; fall camp will be exciting to watch.
Incoming Player Projections: Kendal Thompson
Ute Zone Top Stories
Utes make big impression on Texas wideoutAfter visiting Salt Lake City, three-star wide receiver Tyquez Hampton took some time to talk to UteZone about his thoughts on the Utes.
Ute Zone4:18 PM
Shah, Jr. relishes the family legacyFor linebacker Sharrieff Shah, Jr., the opportunity to carry on a legacy was too much to pass up.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 11:41 PM
Film Room: Utah vs. USCUteZone breaks down the biggest plays in Utah's win over USC.
Ute ZoneYesterday at 11:16 PM
UteZone Roundtable: 9/25The UteZone staff talks about Utah's big win over USC, what we've seen from the Utes so far this year and what to expect against Cal.
Ute ZoneSunday at 8:50 PM
Position Grades: Utah vs. USCSteve Bartle grades each position group following Utah's big 31-27 win over USC.
Ute ZoneSaturday at 1:09 AM