What does Keytaon Thompson signing mean for UVA QB depth chart?

uva footballThe news that UVA had signed Mississippi State grad transfer QB Keytaon Thompson had me thinking back to a recent interview with offensive coordinator Robert Anae.

Asked about Brennan Armstrong, who we’ve been assuming will be the starting quarterback heading into training camp, Anae was quietly noncommittal toward the end of his answer.

After praising Armstrong as a “program vet,” and comparing him favorably to his predecessors, Kurt Benkert and Bryce Perkins, both now in the NFL, Anae ended with what sounded at the time like coach-speak.

“We have not named a starting quarterback. You know, obviously Brennan is a prime candidate there. But whoever that quarterback will become, when we play Georgia, I’m confident that he will be a player that represents the university, and I think our fans will really look forward to breaking in this new group,” Anae said.

Again, this sounded like something that you’d expect to hear from a coach in the Bronco Mendenhall family tree.

You know, earned, not given, in that vein.

This interview dates back to April 17.

Thompson, a 6’4”, 225-pound four-star prep recruit, didn’t enter the transfer portal until April 20, so, no, Anae didn’t know that there would be a former Top 100 national prospect interested in being in his QB room when he talked with the media last month.

There had been speculation around the program about the commitment to Armstrong, a three-star recruit who has the advantage of having had two years in the program.

Thompson has the talent and game-experience advantage. He only made two starts at Mississippi State, one of them in the 2017 Taxslayer Bowl, at the end of his freshman year, in which he led the Bulldogs to a win over Louisville, whose quarterback was a guy named Lamar Jackson that you might have heard of.

Thompson was 11-for-20 passing for 127 yards, and ran for 147 yards and three TDs, basically out-Jacksoning Jackson, who threw for two TDs, ran for a third, but was also picked off four times in the 31-27 defeat.

What set Thompson back in Starkville was that the coach who had recruited him, Dan Mullen, left after Thompson’s freshman season for Florida, and that Mullen’s replacement, Joe Moorhead, brought in a grad transfer, Tommy Stevens, and made him his QB1 ahead of Thompson.

The experiment didn’t work out, as Moorhead went 14-12 in two seasons before being fired.

Thompson saw action in 20 games, but only played in one game in 2019, which allowed him to use that year as a redshirt season.

Because he is on pace to graduate in three years, he will have two years of eligibility when he arrives at UVA.

A 6’4” four-star dual-threat quarterback with experience in the SEC who can play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining is a hot quantity, as if you needed me to tell you that.

What I’m saying is, and again, you get this, guys with that pedigree on the transfer market don’t sign on thinking they’re going to be the backup for two years.

At the least, Anae has depth in his QB room.

Most likely, that depth will be the guy who went into the spring as the presumptive starter, backing up the four-star SEC stud transfer.

Story by Chris Graham


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