Wednesday was a big deal, but this isn’t a done deal. The Huskies’ quarterback competition should still be fierce.
Kevin Thomson has the advantage, but this isn’t game, set, match. The starting signal-caller in Washington’s opener is still to be determined.
When Thomson announced Wednesday that he is transferring from Sacramento State to UW for his senior year, it marked what may end up being this offseason’s most significant signing for the Huskies. They’re getting a local kid with concrete experience and speed they haven’t seen at the position for years.
But as intriguing as this acquisition is, it doesn’t quite feel like the Jacob Eason transfer, where the former Georgia QB seemed to have the 2019 starting job for the Huskies the moment he stepped on campus in 2018. Thomson may end up leading Washington to big wins, but first, he has to win the job.
So what do we know about him?
For one, he can run. Last season at Sac State, Thomson racked up 619 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 127 carries. He had two games in which he ran for more than 100 yards, and four in which he gained at least 74. The Huskies haven’t had a true dual-threat quarterback since Jake Locker, who gained 1,939 yards on the ground from 2007-10.
Speaking of Locker, Jake never had a season at UW in which he completed over 60 percent of his passes. That was true of Thomson at Sacramento State as well.
Last year he completed 263 of his 448 throws — good for 58.7 percent — and compiled 3,212 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Solid numbers, but not spectacular. And given how 13 of his 14 games came against FCS opponents, you have to wonder what he can do against FBS foes.
As my colleague Mike Vorel pointed out, Gage Gubrud was the presumptive starter for the Cougs when he transferred to Washington State three years after tallying an FCS-record 5,160 yards for Eastern Washington. But Anthony Gordon, who’d thrown just five passes the year before, beat Gubrud out for the job.
There isn’t much FBS experience at quarterback for the Huskies right now. Ethan Garbers is an incoming freshman, Dylan Morris is a redshirt freshman, and Jacob Sirmon has thrown three NCAA passes. But that doesn’t mean any of them should be discounted — and they won’t be.
Still, the addition of Thomson adds security to what may otherwise have been a tenuous situation under center for the Huskies. There is real-time experience there, and in Thomson’s sole game against an FBS opponent last year (Arizona State) he completed 32 of 50 passes for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Plus, if he does win the job he should be fun to watch. The ability to elude defenders adds an element of entertainment we haven’t seen on Montlake in a decade.
Also, he’s got a hell of a story. Originally committing to UNLV out of Auburn Riverside High in 2014, Thomson transferred to Sac State the next year, then missed two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar-collateral ligament. The NCAA granted him two extra seasons of eligibility as a result, meaning he’s about to enter his sixth year of college. Seems like a guy you’d want to root for.
But the idea of a heart-warming ending to a tumultuous career will play no role in Thomson securing the job. The idea of him spawning oohs and ahhs with his speed won’t, either.
This is all going to come down to who coach Jimmy Lake and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach John Donovan think is the best fit for the job. And if one of those other three QBs is .0000001 percent better than Thomson, he’ll be the one taking snaps.
Wednesday was a big day for the Huskies, but nothing is settled yet. Things are starting to open up around here — the quarterback competition will be no different.