With just one week left until the Kansas State football season begins in Arlington, Texas, the Collegian dives into the profile of quarterback and team leader Skylar Thompson.
Growing up in Independence, Missouri, Thompson attended Fort Osage High School and played under head coach Ryan Schartz. A three-year starter, Thompson threw for 1,451 yards and 19 touchdowns on 106-of-185 passing as a sophomore while only having four interceptions. He also rushed for 296 yards on 76 carries, scoring nine touchdowns.
Thompson took the next step his junior year, starting in all 12 games. He passed for 2,385 yards and 24 touchdowns on 158-of-244 passing with six interceptions. He tallied 461 rushing yards on 161 rushes and nine rushing touchdowns.
In his final year at Fort Osage, Thompson led the Indians to a 13-1 record, as well as the Missouri 5A state championship. He threw for 253 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns in Fort Osage’s 63-28 win over Chaminade. His 455 yards of total offense set a state championship game record.
In that senior year, Thompson threw for 2,112 yards and 25 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He also rushed for 1,092 yards and 19 touchdowns on 188 carries. His efforts earned him the 2015 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year and Simone Award winner as the most outstanding football player in the Kansas City metro area.
Including his junior year, Thompson was a two-time first-team all-state selection by the Missouri Football Coaches Association. He was also selected to the USA TODAY Sports/American Family Insurance All-USA Missouri team as a senior as the offensive player of the year.
After his senior season, Thompson was regarded as one of the top 250 players in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, the website also rating him the seventh-best dual-threat quarterback in the nation and the No. 2 prospect in Missouri. He was ranked the 32nd-best dual-threat quarterback by ESPN and 65th-best quarterback overall by Scout.
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Thompson received offers from across the Midwest, including Iowa State, North Dakota State and Kansas. However, Thompson ultimately chose to come to Manhattan in 2015.
I am officially part of the Kansas State family! #EMAW pic.twitter.com/IWEREVwDWH
— Skylar Thompson (@skylarjthompson) October 21, 2015
One of the biggest factors in his decision to attend K-State was his mother, Teresa Lynn Thompson, who passed away two days after Mother’s Day in 2004 from breast cancer.
Eleven years later, Thompson and his family visited K-State for a visit where he spoke with the coaching staff.
“My mother, her favorite color was purple and I just had a feeling in my gut that this was the place for me and where she wanted me to go,” Thompson said in an interview with K-State Athletics. “Honestly, that’s really what set me over the edge and I trusted her and the feelings that she put in my heart and went with it.”
"I just had a feeling in my gut this was the place for me, and this is where (my mom) wanted me to go."
Why #KStateFB's Skylar Thompson chose K-State ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/FRBTNQnvtC
— K-State Athletics (@kstatesports) February 25, 2019
Thompson redshirted his freshman year but still made an impact on the sidelines. He was a co-winner of the team’s Red Raider Award as the top contributor on the scout team alongside teammate Tyler Burns.
In 2017, Thompson saw action in eight games, including four starts against West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.
In the game against No. 10 Oklahoma State, Thompson passed for 204 yards and three touchdowns, earning himself a passer efficiency rating of 284.9 — the fourth-highest mark in school history and the highest ever by a freshman. He also rushed for 93 yards and another touchdown and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week and the Manning Award Star of the Week.
Thompson also helped the Wildcats against Texas Tech. Down 35-24 early in the 4th quarter, the freshman quarterback threw two touchdowns, one in regulation and one in overtime, leading the Wildcats to a 42-35 win.
In one of his most thrilling performances, Thompson threw a game-winning touchdown against Iowa State as time expired to give the Wildcats a 20-19 win over the Cyclones.
Farmageddon Indeed. #KStateFB #EMAW pic.twitter.com/3dDF9dbjej
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) November 26, 2017
By the end of the season, Thompson was tied for third in school history in passing touchdowns among freshmen and had the fourth-most passing yards by a freshman in school history.
In 2018, Thompson saw action in 11 games and started 10, throwing for 1,391 yards and nine touchdowns and added 373 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Against Iowa State, Thompson set career-highs for completions (18) and attempts (27) while also tying his career-high in touchdown passes (3).
The 2019 season saw a big change for the K-State football program and Thompson when College Football Hall of Fame and Wildcat head coaching legend Bill Snyder stepped down from the program and North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman took over.
As team captain, Thompson started all 13 games for K-State and helped the Wildcats go 8-5 by throwing for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns while only throwing five interceptions. Thompson continued as a ground threat, rushing for 405 yards and 11 touchdowns on 114 carries.
In week six of the 2019 season, Thompson helped rally K-State past TCU late in the fourth quarter, accounting for 91 of K-State’s 95 yards on a game-winning drive to lift the Wildcats over the Horned Frogs, 24-17. While the win was impressive, perhaps the biggest win of Thompson’s career came the following week against No. 5 Oklahoma.
Even though he threw for 213 yards, Thompson and the Wildcats decimated Oklahoma in the ground game, running for 213 yards against a Sooner team that attempted a late comeback but fell short on an onside kick.
Thompson’s four rushing touchdowns that day tied him for the third-most in a game in school history and the fourth most among all players in the nation in 2019. He was awarded the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, Maxwell Award Player of the Week, Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 List and Manning Award Star of the Week accolades.
I’ve never felt their presence more in my life. It’s way bigger than the game of football and wins and losses. I love you Mom and Grandpa 💜 pic.twitter.com/Zq2RevkKFk
— Skylar Thompson (@skylarjthompson) October 27, 2019
A few weeks later against West Virginia, Thompson broke multiple personal records, including passing yards (299), total offense (319), completions (24) and pass attempts (39).
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Thompson ended the season 10th in K-State history in single-season completions and tied for 10th in touchdowns responsible for (23). He had the fifth-most passing yards among juniors in school history and finished 12th overall in single-season passing yards.
The COVID-stricken 2020 season saw Thompson start only three games before a season-ending injury against Texas Tech in week three.
The 2020 season was not without magical moments, however. In week two of the season, Thompson and the Wildcats traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to put on another spectacle by beating No. 3 Oklahoma 38-35, giving K-State its first-ever road win over a team ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Down 35-14 late in the third quarter, the Wildcats and their team captain rallied to lead a 21-point comeback — tied for the largest in school history. Thompson passed for 334 yards on 18-of-25 passing, becoming the first Big 12 quarterback to win back-to-back games over top-five Sooner teams since Oklahoma State’s Josh Fields in 2001 and 2002.
For his performance, Thompson was again awarded the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and a Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 Quarterback.
Record breaking day in K-State history for QB1@skylar_15 #KStateFB ⚒ pic.twitter.com/FFCBSgoYEc
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) September 26, 2020
BACK-TO-BACK@KStateFB gets their second-straight win against Oklahoma for the first time since 1997 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/NbvAdPWHY3
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 26, 2020
After the 2020 season, many were unsure if Thompson would return. However, he made his decision known shortly after the season ended.
God’s Plan…🕊 pic.twitter.com/Lvbg3BDhnS
— Skylar Thompson (@skylarjthompson) December 20, 2020
Heading into the 2021 season, there are high expectations of the sixth-year senior. He has been placed on the 2021 Maxwell Award watch list, Manning Award watch list, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list, Senior Bowl watch list and Wuerffel Trophy watch list.
Thompson will be the undisputed leader this year, leading the team onto the field next week when K-State takes on Stanford at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, to kick off the 2021 season.