Instead of following his father’s OU legacy, UT’s Casey Thompson will write his own in a legendary rivalry
It will be a moving Saturday, with a proud father watching his son follow his three decades old path.
Same game of rivalry. Same position. Same Cotton Bowl stadium, passing the field through the same multi-storey tunnel.
The contrast, however, will be just as sharp. Charles Thompson co-quarterback the Oklahoma Sooners’ crimson and cream wins at Red River Showdown in 1987 and 1988. Casey Thompson will be quarterback for the Burnt Orange and White Longhorns in the 117th edition of the Saturday rivalry.
Although Casey has been a Longhorn for four years, this Showdown is the first he will start or even star in. Charles, 53, from Lawton, Oklahoma, and earlier uncompromising since age 6, says it’s impossible to predict exactly how he will feel, but …
“Even since Casey has been on the team, I’ve always been rooted, for the most part, for Oklahoma,” he said. “But this will be the first year that I have to honestly say that I will support Casey and wish him the best.
“If he does that and plays to the best of his ability, it means Texas could eventually win the game. So I’m going to take root, as they say, “All throttle and no brakes” this Saturday. “
In the history of the rivalry, the most famous crossing of the Red River is and always will be that of Darrell Royal, the Sooners’ star defensive back and quarterback of the late 1940s who coached Texas for 20 seasons. , winning three national titles.
Father-son, Sooner-Longhorn quarterbacks are storybook stories, even if father and son don’t see him as a Hatfield who defected from the McCoys.
Casey politely points out that he grew up in Oklahoma City, not Norman, which are 20 miles apart. Sure, he grew up as a Sooners fan and, yes, his dad and brother Kendal (2011-13) played there, but Texas seemed like the best opportunity when he made an oral engagement in 2017.
Even when Cameron Rising reversed his commitment from OU to UT, prompting a text from Sooners coach Lincoln Riley and others “are you sure?” Alabama, Ohio State and other inquiries, Casey said he “wanted to stay true” so he signed with Texas.
“I never really grew up hating Texas,” he said. “The downcast horns was something that was just the little hand symbol. So I never really grew up, like hating a team.
“Even now that I’m in Texas, I wouldn’t say I hate OU. I’m just trying to focus on my job, and at the end of the day I’m a competitor. I want to win.”
The storyline would be compelling enough if Charles and Casey Thompson were among the dozens of Sooner and Longhorn quarterbacks to have played in the rivalry, but of course Charles isn’t just any former OU quarterback. He is this quarterback.
He’s the “quick and mystical” Wishbone quarterback, as CBS’s Verne Lundquist called him, who ran 114 yards on eight carries in the Sooners’ 44-9 win over UT in ’87 and the following October was replaced injured Jamelle Holieway and piloted OU’s 28-13 victory over Texas.
Charles Thompson is also the quarterback who on February 27, 1989, appeared on the cover of Illustrated sports for all the wrong reasons, handcuffed and wearing an orange jumpsuit, after trying to sell 17 grams of cocaine to an undercover FBI agent.
In this regard, Kendal and Casey and the younger brother Cade did not follow their father’s path. But Casey’s rise, after three years and two waiting games, to the leading role three weeks ago illustrates how far Charles and, by extension, his family have come.
Charles calls him Thompson Strong, a persistence and mental toughness that Charles and Kori Thompson instilled in their sons.
“It’s just fighting against all the naysayers, doing things that people don’t think you can do,” Charles said. “When I got into trouble, people said to me, ‘Once a loser, always a loser’ and that I couldn’t get my life back on track.
“I used that as a motivation.”
The redemption of a father
Charles Thompson had already proven opponents wrong by the time he arrived at Norman as a 5-10, 175-pound who was supposedly too small for major college football.
Holieway was the established starter after replacing injured Troy Aikman in 1985 and leading the Sooners in their first year to the national title that season.
Yet as a rookie in the red shirt in 1987, Thompson played 11 games, averaging 7 yards per carry. He came in when Holieway got his shoulder stuck against Texas and for good when Holieway tore his ACL against Oklahoma State in early November.
Two weeks later, Thompson led the No.2 OU to a 17-7 victory over No.1 Nebraska at Lincoln. Although the Sooners lost to Miami in the Orange Bowl, Thompson seemed destined for stardom, even though he shared snaps with Holieway for much of the following season.
His arrest just a month after the Citrus Bowl in January 1989 culminated three weeks of uproar within the OU program, including arrests for rape and assault with a deadly weapon, leading to Switzer’s resignation four months later.
Thompson spent 17 months in federal prison in Big Spring, Texas, but upon his release he decided to change his life. Playing at the back, he helped lead Central State of Ohio to the NAIA national title in 1991, earned a marketing degree, and played four seasons in the Canadian and world football leagues.
He became a motivational speaker, an uplifting narrative with a brutally honest message about the pitfalls of becoming a major college athlete and losing sight of priorities, academically and in life.
“When I was in school we had a lot more free time to do things,” he said. “Now it’s a lot more regulated. … There are a lot less opportunities for the knucklehead stuff that I have had the opportunity to participate in.
Most of the time, Charles Thompson channeled his energies and passion into his family and helping young football players through his 7v7 flag organization, Hustle Inc. 405, and the football program for the young people he leads on 22 acres of land. land complex in Woodson Park in South Oklahoma City.
Among the program’s many successes are current Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar and Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young.
“Here in Oklahoma City, some people are saying that maybe Casey’s rise is redemption for me,” Charles said. “No, I feel like I redeemed myself in this community years ago with the way I have invested in so many families.
“For me the payoff is not just my kids, but all the kids whose parents come back and say, ‘Dude, I appreciate what you planted in my son. “”
A new chapter
Over the years, gradually, Charles Thompson has been welcomed back into the Oklahoma football family. Former coach Bob Stoops has occasionally invited him to speak to the team.
During her weekly Norman press conference on Tuesday, Riley spoke fondly about the Thompson family and her time trying to recruit Casey for OU.
“Great people,” Riley said of the Thompson. “Look, they’re our rivals so you never wish them too much good, but it’s been fun for me to watch Casey do well. It really is. It is not a surprise.
Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler comes off a strong performance at Kansas State, but was booed in tighter-than-expected home wins over Nebraska and West Virginia, lending more intrigue to the Saturday showdown.
Sooners versus Longhorns. Rattler against Thompson, the son of a great Sooner with a complicated legacy.
Casey Thompson estimates he has attended 10 UT-OU games. He has fuzzy memories of Adrian Peterson (or maybe it was DeMarco Murray, he says) and Sam Bradford (or maybe it was Jason White), but vivid memories of the 2017 game. , after enlisting in Texas.
That’s when Oklahoma No.3 and Baker Mayfield edged rookie Sam Ehlinger and Texas, 29-24.
“It’s a dream come true for me to start in this game, but I really don’t think I’ll be nervous, anxious or tense,” he said on Monday. “I’m excited. I wish we could go play today if we could.
“There were a lot of great players who… made a name for themselves in this game. And I’m looking to do the same this week.
Charles Thompson will be sitting in the Cotton Bowl Longhorns family section, as he has for the past three seasons, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be wearing Burnt Orange.
He plans to wear black, with a burnt orange sticker and Casey’s UT jersey number 11, and a crimson sticker with Kendal’s OU jersey number (also 11) and another with number six. It was his number, in case someone forgot it.
Charles calls it his Thompson heritage shirt. It’s a legacy that spans three decades, everything that happened between and on both sides of the Red River.
“As a dad who played the game, it doesn’t matter what color he wears this Saturday or any Saturday,” he said. “It gives me great joy to see your son there reap the rewards of all the hard work he has given as a father. “
Texas Longhorn blogger Ross Fisher contributed to this story.
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