Jimmy Lake knows plenty about Kevin Thomson.
After all, he was previously planning to beat him.
Thomson — a 6-foot-2, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback — played each of the last three seasons for Sacramento State, which is scheduled to meet UW at Husky Stadium on Sept. 12. It turns out, he’ll still attend that game.
He’ll just be standing on the opposite sideline.
Thomson announced Wednesday that he will make a graduate transfer to UW for his final season of eligibility this fall.
“We’re really pleased that Kevin is returning to play for his hometown school,” UW coach Jimmy Lake said in a statement. “He adds a lot of experience to our quarterbacks room and should help raise the level of competition for everyone.”
And, for UW, the appeal is easy to understand. Thomson was named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year and an FCS All-American following the 2019 season. He tied for third in voting for the Walter Payton Award, which honors the top offensive player in the FCS. He threw for 3,216 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 games last season, while rushing for 619 yards and a team-best 12 rushing touchdowns.
In 27 career games at Sacramento State, Thomson has thrown for 6,424 yards with 52 touchdowns and 12 picks, while adding 1,247 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. In his only opportunity against a Power Five opponent, Thomson completed 32 of 50 passes and threw for 263 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 19-7 loss to Arizona State on Sept. 6, 2019.
Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor — who took over prior to the 2019 season — previously coached former UW quarterback Jake Browning at Folsom (Calif.) High School.
Thomson originally signed with UNLV out of Auburn Riverside High School in 2014 and transferred following the 2015 season.
You read that right. Thomson has attended college since 2014 — when UW incoming freshman quarterback Ethan Garbers, by comparison, was entering the seventh grade. According to the Sacramento Bee, he had Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament on Sept. 2, 2015 — his birthday — and was sidelined for nearly two years as a result. The NCAA granted Thomson two extra seasons of eligibility to account for the extended rehab.
Thomson’s experience is certainly part of his appeal. The graduate transfer will bring a measure of experience to a Husky quarterbacks room that noticeably lacks it. UW’s other three scholarship quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris and Garbers — have thrown a combined three career college passes and have yet to start a game. Five-star Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard is also committed in the 2021 class.
Of course, Thomson hasn’t started a game as an FBS quarterback, either — and there’s no guarantee that he will. This summer, first-year UW offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach John Donovan will still hold an open competition, and the most capable signal caller will start against Michigan on Sept. 5. While Thomson’s legs provide an element that his competitors don’t possess, his accuracy could be a concern. He completed just 57.3% of his passes in three seasons and 27 games at Sacramento State.
As an example, consider the case of Gage Gubrud. After breaking an FCS record with 5,160 passing yards for Eastern Washington in 2016, Gubrud made a graduate transfer to Washington State three years later. It was all but assumed that Gubrud would succeed fellow graduate transfer Gardner Minshew under center in Pullman … before Anthony Gordon beat him out for the starting job last fall.
So, no, nothing will be guaranteed to Thomson. And in some ways, that seems fitting. As a high-school senior in 2014, he was ranked as a mostly anonymous two-star prospect by 247Sports.com. He chose UNLV over scholarship offers from Idaho and New Mexico State.
Now, more than six years later, he’ll close his college career as a member of the home-state Huskies.
“They had reached out when I was in the (transfer) portal,” Thomson said in an interview with 247Sports. “It’s every kid’s dream in the area to go to the University of Washington. I just jumped on it because I was so excited. To be able to play in front of my friends and family is just a dream come true.”