Sooner-turned-Ute Kendal Thompson is eager to prove himself
Thompson steps into a crowded quarterback situation at Utah. He’s one of six quarterbacks eligible to be the starter this fall. Compounding the uncertainty is the health status of Wilson. The junior missed the last three games of 2013 when an intracranial artery injury was discovered. He was eventually cleared for non-contact drills during spring ball but has yet to receive full medical clearance to resume his playing career.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham expects such a decision to come later this month and expressed optimism that Wilson will be cleared to play.
Regardless of the verdict, Thompson is expected to get a lot of reps when camp opens in August.
“We’ve got to find out about Kendal right away,” said Whittingham, who declined to define Thompson’s exact situation. “All I can tell you is he’s going to get reps and we’re going to find out about him.”
Whittingham added that the coaching staff got a good look at the quarterbacks who participated in spring ball. They expect Thompson, who is entering his fourth year in a college program, to be more advanced than Isom, the other newcomer who is also going to get a look.
“We’re not going to just say, ‘Hey Kendal, you’re the guy,’ ” said Whittingham, who noted that Thompson will get reps with Wilson or whoever is deemed the top guy if Wilson's not cleared to play when camp opens. Whittingham said at this point there’s no pecking order established between Manning, Cox and Schulz.
“A lot of talent,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got to find out what Kendal’s capabilities are early in camp.”
Isom, he continued, will be given as many reps as they can spare. In the meantime, Whittingham said the newcomers need to get themselves comfortable, completely comfortable, with the offensive schemes this summer.
“They can get the video. We get to spend a little bit of time watching video with them (this summer), but they go out on their own and throw some balls and work with their teammates,” said Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen. “They’ll get a lot of work done on their own and we’ll spend a little bit of time in the film room with them. The big key is going to be how they do when we start practice and we get a chance to actually evaluate them.”
Christensen noted that all the quarterbacks are going to get a good look.
“There’s great competition, just like at every position,” he said. “Whatever the depth is, whatever number of guys you’ve got there, you’re going to throw them out there and let them all compete.”
Ready for action
Although Thompson’s college football career is limited to just two games (against Iowa State and Oklahoma State), the former UnderArmour prep All-American is healthy and eager to get on the field. He was in the mix for Oklahoma’s starting quarterback job with Blake Bell and Trevor Knight last fall when a broken foot on the opening day of camp stymied his progress.
Thompson, who redshirted in 2011 and did not play in 2012, wound up completing 4 of 13 passes for 64 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He had two rushes for 21 yards.
Despite the lack of playing time, Charles Thompson insists his son is prepared and ready. He considers the time spent at Oklahoma to be invaluable, especially the knowledge Kendal gained in becoming a complete quarterback under assistant coach Josh Heupel.
“I think it’s given him all the necessary tools to go in there and do what we feel like is the task at hand and that’s win the job,” Charles said. “When he steps on campus, day one, that’s what his objective is.”
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