Mississippi State QB Keytaon Thompson, former top-100 recruit, enters transfer portal

A really intriguing quarterback has hit the transfer market. 

According to Al.com and ESPN, Keytaon Thompson is leaving Mississippi State as a graduate transfer. Thompson, a top-100 recruit in the 2017 class, would be eligible immediately at his new school with two seasons left to play. 

Thompson should attract plenty of attention from quarterback-needy teams. 

Showed flashes early in career

Thompson was recruited to Starkville by former MSU head coach Dan Mullen and saw quite a bit of action under Mullen as a true freshman. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound dual-threat QB, Thompson played in 10 games in 2017, throwing for 388 yards and two touchdowns while also going for 446 yards and six scores on the ground.

After a serious leg injury to starter Nick Fitzgerald in the Egg Bowl, Thompson started in the TaxSlayer Bowl and rushed for three TDs in a win over a Lamar Jackson-led Louisville team. 

Thompson returned to the backup role behind Fitzgerald in 2018, this time under new head coach Joe Moorhead (Mullen left MSU for Florida). In nine games (one start), Thompson threw for 458 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 226 yards and four scores. 

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Second time in transfer portal

Ahead of the 2019 season, Thompson battled for the starting quarterback job but lost out to Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens. Soon after, Thompson entered his name into the transfer portal to explore his options. He ended up staying in Starkville for another season, but played sparingly behind Stevens and true freshman Garrett Shrader. Because of his lack of playing time, Thompson was able to take a redshirt. 

MSU fired Moorhead after the 2019 season and brought in Mike Leach from Washington State. 

Since then, Leach recruited two transfers to Starkville, including ex-Stanford starter KJ Costello. With Costello immediately eligible and considered the favorite to start in Leach’s pass-happy offense, Shrader returning and another transfer (ex-Vanderbilt QB Allan Walters) also in the fold, Thompson’s transfer seemed inevitable. 

Not many QBs available

Even with the college football season seemingly in limbo amid the coronavirus pandemic, Thompson’s ability to play right away in 2020 could make him a highly sought-after option on the transfer market. 

“Thompson has always had a live arm and athletic ability so he has potential at a new destination,” said Rivals national recruiting director Mike Farrell. “His size, the experience he has against SEC teams and his overall skillset will allow him to push as a starter likely at a Group of Five program. However it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could start at the Power Five level as well.»

There are only a few other notable options at the position remaining. JT Daniels, a former five-star recruit, recently announced he was exploring leaving USC. Unless the transfer waiver rules change (a vote is anticipated in May), Daniels would have to sit out next season. 

Other available transfer quarterbacks include ex-Miami starter Jarren Williams and ex-USC backup Jack Sears. Sears was once committed to transfer to San Diego State, but backed out of that decision when Rocky Long left SDSU and Brady Hoke took over the program.

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