Skylar Thompson’s journey from freshman practice squad to team captain

Then-junior quarterback Skylar Thompson celebrates after running in a touchdown during the homecoming football game against Oklahoma in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. The Wildcats upset the No. 5 rated Sooners with a final score of 48-41. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

When Skylar Thompson arrived at Kansas State as a four-star prospect in 2016 he began making highlights on the practice squad as just a redshirt freshman. With hard work and development, Thompson enters his senior season as one of the projected 90 best players in college football.

In 2016, Thompson was a co-winner of the team’s Red Raider Award, given out to the player that contributed the most on the scout team that year. From the beginning, the future looked bright for the young Wildcat quarterback.


That bright future was just on the horizon for Thompson, as he found the field in eight games during the 2017 season as a redshirt freshman. Thompson even earned himself the starting job in the final four games of 2017.

Thompson threw for 689 yards and five touchdowns in his debut season with the Wildcats. Out of his four starts, he led the Wildcats to victory three times.

He showed his arm strength in an upset road victory over No.10 Oklahoma State, throwing for 204 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

After the upset victory over the Cowboys, Thompson showed stayed calm under pressure and threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Iowa State as time expired in the Wildcats final regular-season game of 2017, sending Bill Snyder Family Stadium into a frenzy.

Thompson then led the Wildcats to their second straight bowl victory, a 35-17 victory over the UCLA Bruins in the Cactus Bowl, giving him a 3-1 record as a starting quarterback.

After this display of talent in 2017, his playing time increased, and as a result, his stats increased.


Thompson played in 11 games with 10 starts as he competed alongside former Wildcat Alex Delton for the starting position throughout the 2018 season. Throwing for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns, he led the Wildcats to five victories throughout the 2018 campaign.

Out of those five victories, three of them were conference games, including a 31-12 win over Oklahoma State on homecoming, a 21-17 win over in-state rival Kansas and a 21-6 senior day win over Texas Tech.

Thompson also recorded 373 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground with his 105 carries that year.

Even though the season was less than ideal with a 5-7 final record, Thompson still climbed the ladder in the Big 12 in total offense with more than 160 yards per game and a passing efficiency of 125.3.


There were a lot of questions in the air going into the 2019 season, with a new head coach in Chris Klieman and a less than stellar 2018 season.

Coming from North Dakota State, Klieman’s Bison had actually offered Thompson a scholarship to play with them before the four-star quarterback chose K-State. Now that Klieman was with the Wildcats, he had the quarterback he wanted back in 2016.

Voted team captain and claiming the starting quarterback position, Thompson had a record-breaking season. He threw for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns with only five interceptions.

Not only was his passing game stellar, Thompson also had an incredible season on the ground — he was tied eighth nationally and second in the Big 12 Conference among quarterbacks with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Perhaps Thompson’s biggest performance of his career came in October, upsetting the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 48-41. Throwing for 213 yards and pounding in four rushing touchdowns in that game, Thompson earned multiple accolades including the weekly Maxwell award, the Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 List and Manning Star of the Week.

Thompson also became the first K-State quarterback to rush and pass for over 100 yards in a game since Alex Delton in 2017.

After an 8-4 regular season campaign, Thompson finished his season off by earning the offensive MVP award in the Liberty Bowl.


Going into his final year with the Wildcats, the veteran quarterback is the first quarterback in school history to pass for 6,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards.

Thompson also has a 59.2 completion percentage — the fourth-best in school history. He also has the fifth-most rushing yards by a quarterback in school history with 1,045 yards.

Thompson ranks fourth nationally in rushing touchdowns among current college quarterbacks going into the upcoming season with 19.

Going into the 2020 season Thompson is named on three different award watchlists, two for the top quarterback in college football, the Maxwell Award and the Manning Award, as well as one for community service and athletic achievement, the Wuerffel Trophy.