Casey Thompson trusted the process. Now, he’s Texas’ starting quarterback

Nathan Han, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 17 flipbook.

Trust the process.

That’s been Casey Thompson’s mindset when he sat patiently behind Sam Ehlinger for three years.

The redshirt junior quarterback trusted the process when he decided to stay at Texas despite multiple ventures into the transfer portal, and when he lost the starting quarterback battle to redshirt freshman  Hudson Card this fall.

“I said, ‘I’m going to let this hurt. I’m going to let this motivate me,’” Thompson said. “Then, as soon as Monday came around, I just woke up, and I went back to work. … My mindset was if I’m not going to get named (starting quarterback) Week 1, and it’s not going to be  given to me, then I have to go  take it myself.”

That’s exactly what he did: Take the starting quarterback job himself. Head coach Steve Sarkisian announced Monday that Thompson would start this Saturday against Rice.

“Whenever Coach Sark and I met, he goes, ‘It’s funny how that works. We were just sitting down a few weeks ago, and I was telling you just to keep being patient and keep working hard, and you’ll get your shot,’” Thompson said. “Then he goes, ‘We look up a few weeks later, and I’m going to  name you a starter.’”

The quarterback has yet to start a game for the Longhorns, but he shined in brief stints. The first came against Colorado in the 2020  Alamo Bowl, where Thompson replaced an injured Ehlinger and threw four touchdowns.

Then, after losing the preseason quarterback battle to Card, Sarkisian said Thompson “earned” playing time and inserted the junior toward the end of the third quarter against  Louisiana and Arkansas.

In six possessions in the two outings, Thompson led Texas to four touchdowns and a field goal for a whopping 5.17 points per drive, albeit in a  small sample.

If the 6-foot-1-inch, 192-pound quarterback can translate most of what’s made him successful so far — his elusiveness in the pocket, accuracy on intermediate throws and sound decision making — to a full four quarters, Thompson may just lock down this  starting job for good.

“I just realized today that the last time I started a game is November 2017, which is crazy,” Thompson said.  “But I’m excited. I’ve waited a long time for this opportunity. And I just think it’s a testament to perseverance  and hard work.”

The battle to start isn’t over just yet. Sarkisian also said Card will play against Rice, presumably in a similar situation as the first two games — just flipped.

Sarkisian’s indecision at the spot might linger through the Big 12 opener against Texas Tech on Sept. 25.

Thompson said he’s unfazed by the pressure that comes with starting. He still prepares with the same weekly routine before each game day that he used even when he was a backup to Ehlinger: watching full game clips Sunday and Monday, watching third down and red zone clips Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and going through the playbook and the game sheet Friday.

“I’m going to keep the same approach and the same exact habits that have gotten to me where I  am today,” Thompson said.

After all, Thompson has trusted the process for years. Why stop now?