Casey Thompson will play on the field he’s always dreamed of this Saturday, but on the opposite side most would’ve imagined.
Casey originally bled Oklahoma crimson. His dad, Charles Thompson, was an OU quarterback from 1986-88, where he appeared in a national championship in coach Barry Switzer’s wishbone offense. Even Casey’s brother, Kendal Thompson, was a Sooners quarterback from 2011-13 before transferring to Utah.
But Casey had a different path than his family members. Although he grew up in nearby Moore, Oklahoma, nearly 10 miles from Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, he chose Texas burnt orange, committing to the Longhorns in 2017. Now, the redshirt sophomore captains the No. 21 Longhorns (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) as they take on No. 6 OU (5-0, 2-0) in the Red River Showdown, known by many as perhaps the greatest rivalry in college football, at 11 a.m. Saturday in Dallas.
“It’s special,” Charles told The Daily on Thursday. “Obviously for me, I'm going to be on the other side because of support of him. The fact that I can say my son is on the other side, so I’m going to be rooting for him to have great success, even the novelty of that thought is just different for me.
“Since I was three years old, I’ve never really truly rooted against the Sooners having success on that day. It’ll be weird to say the least, but exciting. Most people thought there’s no way the son of Charles Thompson, and brother of Kendal Thompson, growing up 10 miles from Oklahoma, would choose its arch rival.”
Casey has several connections throughout the OU roster. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley recruited him while he was the offensive coordinator under former head coach Bob Stoops.
“Obviously, we know that family very well,” Riley said on Tuesday. “Know their history here, their history in this area. (I) knew Casey pretty well going up through high school (and we) had a great relationship. Really enjoyed the kid, had fun getting to know him, his dad, his brother, just great people.”
Casey and OU receiver Drake Stoops, the son of Bob Stoops, met playing basketball together for Oklahoma PrimeTime Basketball in middle school, when Bob called Charles wanting the two to start working together.
It was then the pair became friends, which Drake said continues to this day. In the offseason when both athletes are in the area, they’ll find a field and work out together.
Casey and Drake even had multiple matchups in high school, when Drake’s Norman North battled Casey and district opponent Southmoore.
OU safety Pat Fields recalled his first high school interception coming off a pass from Casey. Although Fields and Union High School in Tulsa defeated Casey’s team, he had second thoughts on talking trash before the game, he said with a chuckle on Wednesday.
“Me and Casey are cool,” Fields, a senior team captain, said. “I definitely tried to get him to come here and wish he would’ve come here. … That’s my guy.”
Casey played three seasons at Southmoore before transferring to nearby 4A-division Newcastle his senior season. He was a consensus four-star recruit, with offers from the likes of Ohio State, Oregon and North Carolina, and garnered over 12,000 total yards and 154 touchdowns across four prep seasons.
At the time, the Sooners had three scholarship quarterbacks on their roster in Kyler Murray, Austin Kendall and then-freshman Chris Robison. Texas on the other hand, had Sam Ehlinger, who’d yet to play a game, and Shane Buechele, who later transferred to SMU.
“We thought it was ultimately the best decision for Casey and was a better fit,” said Charles, who starred at Lawton High School in southwest Oklahoma. “We thought it was the right situation at the right time.”
According to Casey’s Instagram, the first team to send him recruitment mail was OU. He also has pictures of him attending the Sooners’ 2014 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, and working out inside the Sooners’ Everest Training Center, further displaying his connection to the program.
The latter post was a year after Kendall had transferred after being beat out by Trevor Knight. Kendall appeared in just two games for Oklahoma, both during the 2013 season.
Charles remembers Casey passing to former Sooners receivers Kenny Stills and Sterling Shepard, hanging out at Switzer’s house, and meeting with former running backs Billy Sims and Joe Washington.
However, Charles feels it speaks to Casey’s character that he eventually chose Texas.
“I think in life, we all make decisions sometimes thinking about other people,” Charles said. “Sometimes we put ourselves in the backseat instead of the front seat. So, that’s what we decided to do as a family. At the end of the day, there were a lot of things pointing in the direction of Texas.”
Casey has 707 passing yards with nine touchdowns plus 115 additional rushing yards and three scores. Despite tossing four touchdowns on just 10 attempts in last season’s Alamo Bowl, he lost the starting job to begin the season to Hudson Card, before becoming the starter after the Longhorns’ loss to Arkansas in September.
Heading into Saturday, Casey will look to become the next Sooner destroyer, despite crossing the Red River to do it.
“He’s an Oklahoma kid,” Charles said. “He was part of the Oklahoma family growing up. When I was welcomed as part of the program through the years, so were my kids, and Casey was one of them.”