So I have been openly critical of Nick Fitzgerald for much of the 2017 season. Most of my lashings came at the fact that his throwing was always just very inconsistent and this frustrated me. Does this come from a spoiled Dak Prescott withdrawal mindset? ABSOLUTELY. So I will be the first to say it was unfair to put Fitz on that pedestal and hold him to those standards.
Regardless of my feelings towards Fitz, I must say that I have been very excited about Keytaon Thompson since his recruitment, commitment, and debut as a Bulldog. In my opinion, he was the first highly touted QB recruit Dan ever landed at MSU. Dak was our best QB in history, but people might forget that up until about 2 weeks before signing day of his senior year, we were his most legitimate offer. We took a chance on a raw Louisiana prospect and it paid off HUGE. Sometimes we were not as fortunate aka Favre, Staley, and Tiano. This is why I was so excited about Thompson.
Thompson came here as a 4 star dual threat QB who was considered one of the best at his position in the country. He led his HS team to a state championship his senior year. The offense he ran in high school was a watered down version of Dan’s offense with possibly more attention to throwing as Thompson came in with a great throwing motion. He is a gifted runner who in my opinion is different from Nick and Dak. He is an athlete with great throwing ability; anyone who saw him during the Egg Bowl must agree he has the ability to make people miss in the open field. Fitz is more of a get North and South guy while Thompson can cut across field for big plays.
I bring all of this up to say, I am worried about what is about to transpire in his career…..slightly. Here is his timeline for the next couple months:
• He is currently the starting QB for our Bulldogs.
• He will go through 2 weeks of bowl practices as our starter and only real QB option.
• He will play the entire game as such and based on the Sirmon defense we will be playing, I have high hopes he will play well. This could be a big confidence boost after the Egg Bowl.
• Next, he will go into Spring Camp and begin to learn Moorhead’s offense. Some have speculated and believe Fitz will be back for Spring Camp which may be true; however, I HIGHLY doubt he will be put on the field where anyone could come within 10 feet of him. So Thompson will be the QB1 who learns the system on the field and runs it for Moorhead all the way up to the Spring game.
• Next…Thompson will head into his sophomore season and sit. Yep. Fitz will be most likely be fully recovered by the Summer and be 100% for Fall Camp where he will assumed his QB1 duties and Thompson will pick up his clipboard and assume his role as Fitz back up.
• If (hoping) Fitz stays healthy, Thompson will see clean up duty against our weaker opponents.
• His next meaningful snap will not come until a year later, his junior year in 2019, when he is QB1 after Fitz has graduated.
I realize all this sounds like I am pushing for Thompson to start over Fitz which let me be clear………I am not. I am merely stating that Thompson has a very tough situation in front of him and his character will be pushed over the coming year. I personally blame Tiano, Staley, and Williams for transferring thus creating the gap in our QB line of succession that forced a true freshman to be our back up QB as opposed to redshirting a year, which Keytaon most likely would have benefited. Also, Dan probably could have taken a JUCO last year to help the situation. Thanks Dan for another barb in my side.
I am very hopeful that Thompson’s leadership qualities will drive through and he will be better for this situation and be ready to be THE MAN in 2019. The saying goes something like “if you apply pressure to coal, it will either become dust or a diamond.” I have faith Thompson can come out the other end of this precarious situation a diamond. I trust Moorhead to handle this situation with care and make sure his QBs are all groomed in the image he needs to run his offense to the best of their abilities.
Thompson is a great talent who is gaining the trust and belief of the team already as a freshman, stepping in after Fitz’s gruesome injury. The faith the team, Moorhead, and myself all have in him should stay with him over the coming years. Fitz is also a great mentor to him and seems to have a genuine connection to want to see him succeed. So I expect that relationship to keep spirits up on the sidelines.
If anything, after this past Egg Bowl, we can all attest that anything can happen. Thompson needs to be ready to hop on the field at any time next year and make a play. Thompson will be next in the line of great MSU QBs to rewrite the record books and his patience will pay off, calling my shot now as I am on this train early. Just give it time young buck.