The saying goes that actions speak louder than words. If words spoke louder than actions, Casey Thompson would have already been named Texas' starter for the 2021 season.
Thompson spoke to the Longhorn media for the first time since the arrival of Steve Sarkisian. In a similar way to that of Nick Saban, the first-year head coach isn't relaying too much information heading into the Orange-White game come Saturday.
He won't have to anymore. On answers and confidence, Thompson might have the edge. After all, he's been training for this moment since he stepped onto campus in 2018.
“You know, I actually sat for three years, and I got limited playing time and action,” Thompson said Thursday, “And it pushed me to become a better player every day.”
Fans already know the upside Thompson can bring. He showed the burnt orange fan base what the Forty Acres can be next season when he started the third quarter of the Alamo Bowl.
Thompson was downright good. No, that's not even the right word to describe the audition tape the Oklahoma City native showed in San Antonio. Thompson finished 8-of-10 passing for 170 yards and throwing four touchdowns.
It was just the start for Thompson. Tom Herman or not, he wanted to keep playing after the final whistle blew.
“I said this right after the Alamo Bowl, I’m hungry and I want to get better,” Thompson said. “I believe in what we can do as a team, and I believe in what I can do. And like I said, I’m just trying to be the best player I can be moving forward and go from good to great.”
Exit Herman, enter Sark.
The audition tape from December no longer mattered. Instead, he would have to start fresh with a new staff calling the shots.
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For Thompson, it was a blank slate to prove he was worth the hype from December. The only problem there was it was also a fresh start for redshirt freshman Hudson Card to get the chance to start as well.
“Clearly, they’re both very athletic, young men,” Sarkisian said earlier this month on the quarterback battle. “They throw the ball well. I think they’ve got a good grasp of what we’re trying to do. Now, it’s just getting into the flow of letting things happen naturally and not playing quite as robotic.
“But I think, all in all, I’m pleased with where we’re at that position.”
The Lake Travis product has made his own strides in camp. So has Thompson. With each throw Card makes, Thompson makes sure he's meeting the standards of what a quarterback must be held to.
"Whenever we go out, we want to be the best player and obviously, we want to try to beat each other," Thompson said of Card. "I think there's a friendly and healthy competition that's going on."
To be the quarterback at Texas comes with pride — especially with the hopes of bringing the Longhorns "back" to glory. Names like Vince Young and Colt McCoy echo throughout DRK when plays are called, with the hopes of the next great gunslinger to join the ranks.
The closest name in the past decade has been Sam Ehlinger, who ranks second in wins. Although the Longhorns never made it to the national title, Ehlinger helped Texas appear in the Big 12 championship and win big matchups against teams like Missouri and Georgia in Bowl games.
Both Thompson and Card were able to learn under his ranks. Thompson though perhaps can now lead by example.
"What I took from Sam is his work ethic and his leadership," Thompson said. "I think his leadership and his toughness really stood out, how he was always prepared for meetings and just being early and being on time. Sam was a great example of that.”
For the first time since 2017, the Longhorns will have a new starter under center. Should Thompson earn the nod, the number won't change.
When Ehlinger declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, Thompson told him he would be switching his number from No. 8 to No. 11. It was the number he wore throughout middle school and high school after all.
“Before the bowl game, I told him that I was going to switch as well,” Thompson said. “So he’s cool with it. There’s no problems with it. And I don’t think I really need his permission because he was already aware of the situation, so that’s what happened.”
When the Orange-White game comes to a close and the final whistle blows, don't expect Sarkisian to name the starter. Thompson knows that, as does Card. The month after the scrimmage will battle on for the quest to QB1.
Based on confidence, Thompson though has arrived. Changes are coming to Texas with a new staff, new quarterback, and new mentality.
Despite wearing a familiar number, Thompson hopes that when called upon, he can be the reason Texas can return to the days of positive praise.
"I have no idea of when he's going to decide to name a starter and how he's going to handle that," Thompson said of Sarkisian's decision for QB. "I'll leave that up to him, and I'll leave the playing part up to me."
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