When quarterback Jason Thompson transferred from the Wyoming Cowboys to the Utah Utes last year, he did so to play under former head coach Dave Christensen, who was named Utah’s offensive coordinator.
After only one year in Salt Lake City, Christensen left the program to become the offensive line coach and run game coordinator with the Texas A&M Aggies.
Thompson’s time as a quarterback also ran its course in Utah. The junior will change positions during spring practice, according to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
Thompson is already accustomed to making position switches. As a true freshman, he started one game at running back and another at quarterback.
The Utes lost both of its starting safeties, Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen, to graduation after the 2014 campaign. Thompson will have an opportunity to compete for playing time after sitting out the past two seasons.
Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith will be skipping his final season with the program and taking a chance with the NFL Draft. The school announced the decision Friday evening, hours after Smith informed the program of his decision.
“After much consideration, I have decided to forgo my senior season at UW to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the National Football League,” said Smith. “Wyoming has been such a special place for me and my family, and will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Smith passed for 3,359 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, completing 62.6 percent of his pass attempts for the Cowboys. In 2012 Smith had the highest passing yard average per attempt in the Mountain West Conference (he slipped to ninth this season). His early departure is a bit of a surprise, although with a new head coach coming to take over the program this may have been more about taking a chance on the draft now rather than potentially going through a bit of a transition under a new coaching staff.
“I have so much respect for Coach (Craig) Bohl and know that we will be very successful at Wyoming,” Smith said of the new Wyoming head coach, who is currently finishing out his duties as head coach of North Dakota State in the FCS playoffs before taking on the Wyoming job full time. “I appreciate him coming out and meeting with me and my family this past weekend and talking with us about his vision for the future of Cowboy Football.”
As for Wyoming’s quarterback situation heading in to the spring, it looks as though an open competition between sophomore Jason Thompson and freshman Tommy Thornton. Thornton had more playing time this season and may be the leading candidate for the job in 2014, although with a new coach taking over it would make sense that most positions will be up for grabs starting as soon as possible.