On Ty Thompson the unicorn, Oregon's added snaps, missing knee pads, Burgerville's blown lead and a goodbye to Fubo: The I-5 Corridor Mailbag
When thousands of his peers have entered the transfer portal, Thompson continues swimming upstream.
There was one game in Ty Thompson’s career as an Arizona high school quarterback that Quenton Maag thought he had the future Oregon Duck on the ropes.
Maag is the defensive coordinator at Gilbert High School and in 2020 Thompson, the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in his class, was putting together a senior season for the ages at Mesquite High School.
Thompson was nearly unstoppable that year, averaging 404.4 passing yards per game, but for three quarters Maag’s blitz-heavy defense kept him at bay on an October night. Gilbert led 46-28 with six minutes to go. An upset was in reach.
“We thought [blitzing] was our best shot at rattling him,” Maag told me. “And for three quarters it worked.”
Then Thompson figured it out.
Three touchdown drives in the game’s final minutes later, Mesquite won 47-46. Thompson finished with 548 yards and six touchdowns. And Maag finished with a whole lot of respect for an opponent he already knew to be formidable.
“When the rest of the team was getting frustrated, I saw him being just as composed as he was from the first snap,” Maag said.
Thompson hasn’t played a ton of football since then. He enrolled early at Oregon in 2021 and has spent the last two seasons behind imported starting quarterbacks. This fall will be his second year behind Bo Nix, whose arrival a year ago could have been perceived as a nod to Thompson’s unreadiness.
Then, of course, Nix played as well as anyone in the country and decided to come back for a second year.
But Thompson has remained at Oregon. In an era where thousands of his peers, many with lesser pedigrees than himself, have entered the portal, Thompson is swimming upstream, biding his time.
“I feel like at this point, I’ve built a very good bond and laid some very strong roots here in Oregon,” Thompson told former teammates Ryan Walk, Brad Yaffe and Nate Heaukulani on the Mental Sweat Show podcast. “I’ve been in this program for 2.5 years now, and I’ve given everything to this program. To just up and leave because something didn’t go my way, or because there might be a different opportunity somewhere, I feel like that would be extremely selfish.”
It’s an admirable outlook from Thompson, one that reminded me of that game against Gilbert all those years ago. Thompson seems to know there’s still plenty of time left on the clock. There’s still time for this to click.
It’s certainly risky.
Thompson has taken 104 snaps1 in his career and plays for an Oregon coach who has shown in his 18 months in Eugene an affinity for game-time experience. Just this offseason, Dan Lanning’s Ducks have added 15 players via transfer who’ve taken a combined 15,833 snaps.
There’s nothing stopping them from going that route again at QB.
Well, except maybe Thompson.
Now, onto this week’s mailbag.
How many more transfers do we need to get under the scholarship cap? We've seen a good deal of movement over the last few weeks but some of those names (such as Keith Brown) were a surprise. — Alec Everson.
Brown’s departure threw me a little bit. Nothing is shocking in today’s college football, but this departure came just days after a soundbite that sounded pretty similar to what Thompson said above.
“I could’ve easily been a portal guy, but I’m a Duck,” Brown said in April, days before becoming a portal guy. “I’ve been here for three years now. I’m from Oregon. It kind of means more to me. I want to play for this team. I want to be a Duck. I wasn’t worried about how long it was going to take, I just knew at some point I’d earn my spot.”
Brown’s now with Louisville, miles away from where he thought he’d be the first time I talked to him back in 2019. Then, Brown was the No. 1 player in the state of Oregon and not shy about his standing on Oregon’s future depth chart.
“It’s going to be so crazy. You have Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 1 DE. You have Mase Funa, who is absolutely an animal. You have Noah Sewell and J-Flowe, who are No. 1-type guys,” Brown said then. “Then you have me ranked as a No. 1. I knew people would be like, ‘Oh, is he still going to come?’ and stuff. And I just wanted to get ahead of that before it started and tweet out and let everyone know that I’m 100 percent at Oregon and nothing is going to change that.”
Not going to hold that one against him — the world has changed a little bit since 2019.
As for scholarship numbers: The spring transfer portal is now closed. Players can no longer enter, though those currently in are still allowed to commit. In total, the Ducks brought in 14 FBS players and 1 FCS player, with the scholarship count sitting at 86. That means the Ducks are at their limit, but that number can always drop throughout the course of the offseason/summer.
The Ducks have sure been on a tear, adding USC WR Gary Bryant Jr., Colorado DB Nikko Reed, East Carolina OL Nishad Strother and CU TE Kaden Ludwick within the last week.
What can you find out about college football players not wearing knee pads, or wearing them so high, they no longer cover the knees? Thanks. — Michael Keston
You know, there are other publications out there that might be closer to the athletic directors, star quarterbacks, boosters and movers/shakers.
But what truly separates the haves and the have nots in this industry is having someone like Kenny Farr on speed dial. Count one up for The Corridor.