Writing about Husky Football twice in the same week, and it’s not even football season yet? I feel like a real college football … head.
As I wrote about before, the Huskies are coming off of two consecutive highly-rated recruiting classes (2019 & 2020) and as such are considered to be among the favorites to win the Pac-12 this season. Of course, 1-A among biggest question marks would be: who’s going to start at quarterback? The guy who’s never started a college football game, the other guy who’s never started a college football game, or the incoming True Freshman who’s – say it with me now – never started a college football game?
No one really believed the Huskies were going to stand pat with Jacob Sirmon, Dylan Morris, and Ethan Garbers, though the dream scenario was trying to entice that USC transfer to come here (J.T. Daniels ended up going to Georgia, because SEC). Enter Kevin Thomson.
Thomson was the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, when he threw for 3,216 yards and 27 TDs (against only 8 INTs), with an additional 619 yards rushing and 12 more TDs on the ground for Sacramento State. It’s truly an impressive resume … for a small school in the Big Sky; so take that with about a thousand grains of salt.
Graduate transfers are a unique proposition. They’ve got the experience you like to see (especially if you’re a program that has none at the position), but you always have to wonder why they’re transferring in the first place. Russell Wilson was famously a grad transfer, but I feel like he’s the exception. He – along with Gardner Minshew for the Cougs – are probably the ideal of what you’d like to see when you acquire one of these players, but look at what we’re talking about here: a future NFL Hall of Famer, and another NFLer who played for a Mike Leach system that was built for players like Minshew to succeed at an elite level.
I’m sure over the vast landscape of grad transfer quarterbacks, you’ve got all kinds, from those elite success stories, all the way down to complete washouts who never played a down for their new school. I feel like the majority of these guys are like Thomson, who played the bulk of their college careers for a smaller school, and are looking to get a taste of the big time to see what they’re made of.
The Huskies are saying the right things, of course. He isn’t guaranteed the starting job by any means, as it will be a four-man competition as we head into the season. But, you can see why people might be excited about Thomson. The experience disparity between him and the others alone gives him a significant advantage as it is, but considering COVID-19 eliminated all spring practices – and has severely hampered what we’re able to do for any sort of training camp this summer – you have to figure Thomson is all but a lock.
The cool part of this is – if he works out – then we’ve got a legitimately better chance to win a lot of games this fall. The knock against Thomson is his accuracy – which has yet to get over 60% in any of his seasons – but I wonder about the talent level around him. With Pac-12 players on the roster to throw to (and to block for him), we could see that number improve. I also LOVE a dual-threat quarterback – especially in college – where protection often breaks down regardless of how talented the offensive lines are (lack of rushing ability seriously hampered Browning and Eason – and as a result, the entire Husky offense – in recent years, in spite of really good O-Lines in front of them).
The other cool part of this is – even if he doesn’t work out – then that means whoever does end up winning the starting job will be that much better and hopefully result in the Huskies winning even more games. I’ll never throw advanced competition out of bed for eating crackers!
The downside is, these moves often lead to one or more quarterbacks transferring from the program, and the three above guys I mentioned who were already on the roster are all highly-rated prospects (with a 5-star QB joining the Huskies in 2021 who looks to be a strong candidate to be a multi-year starter from Day One). You’d hate to see someone leave the program – who might go on to a quality college career – for a one-year rental in a grad transfer. But, the fun thing is: it’s all in their hands. If you want to be the starter, go out and win the job. It’s that simple.
I would’ve put the Huskies’ chances at winning the Pac-12 at MAYBE 10% before this week, given their schedule and the level of competition around the conference. I think this move legitimately improves our chances. And, if we hear good things about Thomson as the competition gets going, you’ll be looking at one rabid Dawg fan when the calendar flips to September!
I mean, let’s be real, you’re going to hear from a rabid Dawg fan regardless because I’m a consummate homer and will have talked myself into ongoing Husky domination between now and then, regardless of whatever news I read. Is it sane? Probably not. Will I be getting my hopes up for later disappointment? Well, I’m a sports fan, so what else is new?