STARKVILLE • Keytaon Thompson has been biding his time behind Nick Fitzgerald at Mississippi State for the past 2½ years.
Thompson even made a pair of starts at quarterback in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl and the 2018 season opener and led the Bulldogs to victory both times.
However with Fitzgerald now graduated, coach Joe Moorhead didn’t just hand the reins of the offense over to Thompson. Instead, the junior is going to have to fight for it in fall camp after MSU brought in Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens during the summer.
Thompson stated that the coaching staff kept him and the rest of the Bulldog signal callers in the loop as they pursued a graduate transfer quarterback and welcomed the competition.
“It’s a position where you always want to go out and get better no matter who is out there behind you or in front of you,” Thompson said. “You still want to get better and be the best player that you can be.”
Although Thompson and Stevens are in the midst of a position battle, the two have become close and worked together since Stevens’ arrival in June.
“Tommy is a great guy,” Thompson said. “We’re quarterbacks so we can relate to each other naturally. It’s just been great.”
Both quarterbacks have experience running Moorhead’s offense and have been able to critique one another and grasp a deeper understanding of the playbook.
“With him being in Moorhead’s offense from the time he was (at Penn State) and with my time here, we both have tips for each other on certain plays,” Thompson said. “We just work together to try to make the team as best as possible.”
Thompson played in Moorhead’s system during nine games last season completing 18 of 39 passes for 458 yards, six touchdowns and one interception while also rushing 24 times for 226 yards and four more scores.
During his season-opening start against Stephen F. Austin, Thompson accounted for 473 yards of offense and tied an SEC single-game record with seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder from New Orleans threw for 364 yards and five TDs and also ran for 109 yards and scored twice.
That year of experience has given Thompson the confidence he needs as the Bulldogs begin installing the offense again in fall camp.
“It’s totally different for me,” Thompson said. “I feel much more comfortable with the offense. I’ve seen the installs before and feel like I know most of them except for the new stuff that we’re putting in.”