Virginia QB position gets a boost from Mississippi State transfer Thompson

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Mississippi State graduate QB Keytaon Thompson announced Friday that he will be transferring to Virginia (Photos: Mississippi State Athletics).

Virginia’s quarterbacking picture became instantaneously brighter on Friday afternoon when former Mississippi State starter Keytaon (pronounced KEY-tahn) Thompson announced he is transferring into Bronco Mendenhall’s program.

Thompson, the state of Louisiana’s “Gatorade Player of the Year” in 2016, is immediately eligible to play and has two years of eligibility remaining.

A 4-star prospect out of Landy-Walker High School in New Orleans, Thompson appeared in 20 career games for Mississippi State over mostly the 2017 and 2018 seasons (he appeared in one game last season and redshirted). He was 2-0 as a starter with his first start coming in the 2017 Taxslayer (Gator) Bowl when he led the Bulldogs to a 31-27 win over Lamar Jackson and Louisville. In that game, Thompson tied a Taxslayer Bowl record with three rushing touchdowns.

He was relegated to a backup after the 2018 season when Penn State transfer Kenny Stevens won the starting job for 2019 under Joe Moorhead. Moorhead replaced Dan Mullen, who left to take over the Florida program.

Moorhead, who went 14-12 over the 2018-19 seasons, was fired after last season and Mississippi State hired Mike Leach from Washington State in the offseason. Leach, who is known for his “Air Raid” pass-happy offense, also brought former Stanford starting quarterback K.J. Costello with him to Starkeville.

It became clear to Thompson that his dual-threat style of play was not going to be in favor of a heavily pass-oriented offense and he decided to transfer.

At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Thompson is definitely the type of quarterback that Mendenhall shops for in his program. The Cavaliers feature redshirt sophomore Brennan Armstrong as the projected starter this fall, but have no proven depth behind him.

Armstrong has been Bryce Perkins’ understudy the past two seasons, playing sparingly but effectively when he received the call. Behind him though are rising senior Lindell Stone, redshirt freshman Luke Wentz (from Germany) and incoming freshman Ira Armstead from South Bend, Ind. Stone has very limited playing time, while Wentz has no college experience. Ditto, obviously, for Armstead.

Mendenhall was excited to announce the news about adding the graduate transfer Thompson to the Virginia program.

“Keytaon is big, physical, fast, dynamic and an exceptional athlete,” Mendenhall said. “To win the Coastal Division and the ACC championship, two quarterbacks are always necessary, not just one. That just increases our chances to have the season that we’re all hoping for.”

Thompson, who was highly recruited out of high school by many of the SEC schools along with Miami and Louisville out of the ACC, was responsible for 18 touchdowns (10 rushing) during his time at Mississippi State.

He compiled 10,737 yards of total offense along with 149 touchdowns during his career at Landy-Walker High. He passed for 3,825 yards and 46 TDs his senior season, to go along with 1,434 yards rushing and 26 more scores.

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