Former Nebraska and Texas quarterback Casey Thompson, one of the top players in the NCAA transfer portal, told ESPN on Wednesday that he has committed to Florida Atlantic.
The move reunites Thompson with Tom Herman, who was his first college coach, at Texas, and who is entering his first season as the Owls’ head coach. Thompson, 24, said that Herman first began recruiting him when he was 15, and Thompson later signed with and played for Herman at Texas.
Thompson entered college in 2018 and redshirted that season with the Longhorns, making this year at FAU his sixth and final season of college. He’ll be eligible immediately and is expected to have a strong shot at the starting job while competing with Central Michigan transfer Daniel Richardson, Ben Ballard and Tyriq Starks.
“I have a chip on my shoulder just like Coach Herman has a chip on his shoulder,” Thompson said. “I’m trying to prove myself.”
In a phone interview, Thompson said FAU offered much more than just a reunion with Herman, which he’s excited about. Although he knows and trusts Herman, Thompson said he did extensive research before visiting and making his choice.
He also visited Auburn and received interest from Notre Dame, Indiana, Houston and Texas State, and he considered staying at Nebraska.
Thompson said he watched extensive film of FAU’s offensive line and skill players and is excited. He also said that the system is an ideal fit and that he clicked with new offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, who brings experience as a college quarterback, NFL quarterback, college coach and NFL coach.
Frye spent last year at Penn State under Mike Yurcich, who coached under Herman at Texas in 2020. Frye also brings NFL-system knowledge from his time at Central Michigan and with the Miami Dolphins as an assistant that meshes with what Thompson learned under Steve Sarkisian at Texas. FAU analyst Tyler Fambrough worked at Texas under both Herman and Sarkisian, which Thompson said was a nice addition because he’ll “play a big role” behind the scenes in the program.
Thompson entered his visit at FAU, which ended Wednesday, with the idea of speaking about the offense with Frye for at least four hours. They ended up spending more than seven hours watching film and diving into the offense.
“The way [Frye] sees and runs the offense is the perfect mix of NFL pass game and spread under Mike Yurcich,” Thompson said. “I know the offense. We’re going to be on the same page.”
Thompson brings savvy from his 20 career college starts, as he started 10 games for Nebraska in 2022 and 10 at Texas in 2021. At Nebraska, he threw for 2,407 yards and 17 touchdowns over those 10 games. At Texas, he threw for 2,113 yards and 24 touchdowns, which led all Big 12 quarterbacks that season.
Thompson said he endured injuries in both of those seasons, including playing through a labrum tear that he said he suffered last September. The injury required surgery, and he wasn’t able to play this spring at Nebraska, although he projects to be healthy for the 2023 season. At Texas, he kept playing after suffering a thumb injury vs. Oklahoma that required surgery after the 2021 season.
Those injuries were part of why Thompson spent so much time researching offensive lines. He said he was impressed after studying FAU’s 28-26 loss to Purdue last season. According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, FAU leads the AAC in overall returning production at 83%.
“The biggest thing for me is that a lot of people don’t know that I played through [injuries] the last two seasons and haven’t had a chance to play a full and healthy season,” Thompson said. “This time around, I’m looking for a coach who believes in me and offensive line who can protect me.”
For his career, Thompson has thrown for 47 touchdowns and 4,829 yards, with 19 interceptions. That included four passing touchdowns off the bench in the 2020 Alamo Bowl blowout of Colorado while at Texas, seven total touchdowns against Kansas in 2021 and five touchdown passes in the Red River Rivalry the same year.
FAU opens with home games against Monmouth and Ohio before marquee road games with Clemson and Illinois.