MISSOULA — Kevin Thomson has hardly taken the conventional route in college football.
The Sacramento State quarterback initially began his career at UNLV in 2014 where he was recruited by Bobby Hauck, who now leads the Montana Grizzlies football team. Thomson redshirted that season in what was ultimately Hauck’s final year in Las Vegas.
Thomson, a native of Auburn, Washington, spent the 2015 season at UNLV but Tommy John surgery on his elbow cost him that year and 2016 and he would go on to transfer to Sac State. Because of that injury, the NCAA granted him two more years of eligibility, so he is technically a sixth-year junior after playing for the Hornets in both 2017 and 2018.
While Thomson and Hauck met up last season when the Hornets visited the Grizzlies in Missoula – a 41-34 Montana victory – he was not nearly on the tear offensively that he is now. This season, Thomson has completed 148 of 226 passes for 1,735 yards and 19 touchdowns to just four interceptions in six games. He’s added another 246 yards on 48 attempts and five more scores on the ground.
“Kevin Thomson, who we’re very familiar with having recruited him to UNLV, is a sixth-year junior quarterback who is playing really well,” Hauck said at his press conference on Monday.
Against Montana State last week, Thomson was 23 for 30 passing for 260 yards and three scores. He added 74 more yards and two more touchdowns on the ground as the Hornets upset then-No. 6 MSU, 34-21.
Because of that performance, Thomson was named the ROOT SPORTS Offensive Player of the Week, and the Hornets (4-2 overall, 2-0 Big Sky Conference) went from being unranked to No. 15 in the STATS FCS polls.
“Kevin’s a good athlete,” Hauck said. “He can run, he’s fast and he’s got a good arm. He’s got a real good feel for the pocket and knows when to pull it down and go and when he does he’s really effective. He’s good in the quarterback run game. He’s a good football player and he’s competitive and he’s a guy that from a young age you could tell he loved to play.”
Thomson saw some success right away in 2017 when he was able to play again, notably a seven-touchdown performance against Southern Utah on Sept. 23 of that year. He started eight games for the Hornets that season.
Last year was rougher for the Hornets and Thomson. Sac State went 2-8 and Thomson played in seven games, but a back injury forced him to miss three of Sac State’s contests.
Now healthy, the Hornets are proving to be one of the most dangerous teams in the Big Sky, a challenge Hauck and the No. 5 Griz (5-1, 2-0) are not taking lightly.
“Sacramento State is a very hot team right now. They’re playing well in all three phases of the game,” Hauck said. “They’re statistically impressive. They’ve done a lot of good things. Obviously, stringing together a few wins is healthy in terms of your program so we’ve got a team that’s on a roll right now that we have to try and go beat on their home field.”