With returning starter Jesse Ertz on the sideline this spring, Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson have engineered the Kansas State offense in advance of the Purple-White spring game Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Thompson, a redshirt freshman, joined the Wildcats in January 2016 as an early enrollee out of Independence, Missouri -- the No. 14-rated dual-threat QB in his class nationally and a four-star prospect. He visited Tuesday with the media in Manhattan, his first interview session as a college QB, discussing his progress after a season on the scout team.
How have you progressed this spring?
Skylar Thompson: I had an injury last spring that prevented me from doing some things, so it’s been a great opportunity for me. I’ve learned a lot, just trying to grow from it and get better each and every day.
What has changed from last fall?
ST: Really, everything. On the scout team, we’re shown a card and [told] to run this play and throw to this guy. You don’t really have a choice. Now, it’s a lot more complex. There’s a lot more to it, both mentally and physically -- how much faster it is. There’s a little bit of pressure, too. This is my first time getting in front of the coaches. People are looking at me, kind of leaning toward me to [see] what I’m going to do and how I’m going to handle things. I feel like I’ve done well, but I definitely have a lot of room to improve.
Are you happy with your development?
ST: This is my third semester. Things are starting to really click. At first, it all seemed like a foreign language. It didn’t make any sense at all. But the more I’ve repped it, it’s really helped and sped up my learning process.
Have you enjoyed working with former K-State QB and new quarterbacks coach Collin Klein?
ST: It’s been great. Collin was a big reason why I came here. The things he had to say about K-State and what it was like really lured me into coming here. I had a good idea, eventually that [Del] Miller would step down and retire. I was 100 percent hoping that Collin would be the next guy up. What I think makes Collin so special is that he’s played the position before. He was a Heisman finalist. He’s seen it all. He’s experienced everything. He’s really easy to relate to. If you have a question about anything, on or off the field, he has the answers for everything.
How much did you benefit from the redshirt?
ST: It was very beneficial. At the time, it was hard to see that. On the scout team, you don’t feel very involved. What I really took pride in was trying to give our defense the best look every week -- whether that was imitating Trevor Knight, Mason Rudolph, whoever, that was my objective, to [play] that role as best I could. But I came here weighing 182 pounds. I’m weighing 212 pounds now, so I think it’s benefitted me on and off the field. Seeing how defenses scheme for us really expanded my football IQ. I’m really thankful for that.
In what ways has your play improved?
ST: I think as far as processing things, and realizing defensive coverages, things that happen pre- and post-snap, seeing that over and over again at a high speed with scout, it definitely helped me out with processing skills and recognition.
Are you ready to compete next fall with Ertz and Delton?
ST: Yeah. I think anybody would answer that question as a yes. I’m a competitive person. That’s what I came here to do is compete for the job.
Can we expect some of the scrambling and highlight-worthy plays that you displayed in high school?
ST: I’ve learned that the guys at this level are a lot faster. You can’t really get away with that stuff with Reggie Walker or those guys. I’ll have to get more comfortable throwing in the pocket with people around you and getting pressured. People are a lot bigger and taller. It’s harder to see things and process that. But I’ll still try to be able to create plays. That’s a big part of what got me here. As spring ball has progressed, I’ve really gotten better with that. Things have slowed down.
How do you balance your excitement with the pressure of your position as a touted young QB?
ST: I do my best to try really not to think about like that. I try to downplay it a little bit. All I try to do is focus on myself, progressing and getting better every day. As Coach Snyder says, each and every day, try to get better at something -- and over the course of time, you’re going to improve. That’s really all I’ve been doing. I’ve tried my best not to pay attention to the outside sources and what people say.