This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
From Wyoming to Utah.
From quarterback to safety.
Jason Thompson's road to his final year of college football has taken a few unexpected turns. But the journey has been a satisfying one, he says.
This week, Thompson was elected as one of Utah's five captains for the season, which starts Thursday night when the Utes play Southern Utah at Rice Eccles Stadium.
"It's just a huge honor to have that respect from my teammates to be respected enough to get something like that," Thompson said.
Asked how the former transfer/quarterback became one of Utah's team leaders, he shrugged and said, "Just doing whatever coach asks me to do, I guess. Just being quiet and working. That's what this program is about."
Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has high praise for Thompson and his approach to the game.
"He's a coach's dream, as far as being team-first and I'll-do-whatever-you-ask-me-to-do," said Scalley. "And he'll do it 100 percent. You look at his notebook copious notes. It's about all the little details, and that's why you can trust him."
That's also why Scalley, who played safety during his playing career at Utah, was thrilled when Thompson was elected as captain.
"Going from offense to defense and picking up the safety position and biding his time and being patient because of the depth, he just never complains and gives it everything he has," Scalley said. "So I'm excited for him. He deserves that. Of course, there are a lot of other players who deserve it, too. But I'm so happy for him."
Coming out of Kennedy High School in Burien, Wash., Thompson signed with Wyoming. As a true freshman in 2012, he played six games for the Cowboys. Against Air Force, he completed 23 of 36 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown.
After redshirting, Thompson was supposed to replace record-setting quarterback Brett Smith as Wyoming's starter in 2014.
"First and foremost, he's a great person," Smith told the Casper Star-Tribune at the time. "I've always enjoyed his company in the quarterback room and on the field. He's a very hard worker, too, and obviously he has the athletic ability and the capability to make big plays every time he goes out on that field. I know that he's going to be an outstanding quarterback. I don't see my records lasting too much longer."
After the 2013 season, however, head coach Dave Christensen was fired by Wyoming and subsequently hired as Utah's offensive coordinator.
Thompson left Laramie, too. He also ended up at Utah, where cousins Matt and Shawn Asiata had played.
"When I was at Wyoming, I never really had a good time there," Thompson said. "I didn't feel at home or have that feel that I have here. I knew family members that came here before and they told he how great of a place it was. So when I got here, it just made sense, and I've been here ever since."
As a transfer, Thompson had to sit out another year after arriving at Utah. Then, he was approached about moving from quarterback to safety.
"The coaching staff asked me if I was willing to help out the team in any way possible, and that we needed depth at safety," Thompson said. "I said, 'I'll do whatever makes the team better. Whatever helps.' "
Good move, all the way around. Thompson has spent two seasons on defense while excelling on special teams.
"I love safety," he said. "I get to run around and hit people. I get to play on special teams that's how I got on the field so I love it."
His goal this season is the same as always: help the Utes win.
"Everyone wants to take it one game at a time, go 1-0 every week," Thompson said. "We don't want to look too far ahead. That's how people get distracted."
About Jason Thompson
• Senior safety Jason Thompson was elected this week as one of Utah's five team captains.
• Thompson started his college career as a quarterback at Wyoming before transferring.
• Thompson and the Utes open their season on Thursday night against Southern Utah.