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(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah QB Kendal Thompson throws during football practice with pads on the baseball field, Thursday, August 7, 2014.
Utah football: QB Thompson vying for top billing — with team and family

Transfer guided from early age by famous — and once infamous — father.

First Published Aug 08 2014 11:27 am • Last Updated Aug 08 2014 10:24 pm

For now, at least, Kendal Thompson’s story cannot begin without a short biography of the man who made him.

If we lived in Moore, Oklahoma, where Kendal grew up, it’d be enough just to write his name.

At a glance

About Kendal Thompson

Vitals » 6-foot-2, 192 pounds

Family ties » Father, Charles is a former Oklahoma quarterback. Cousin Antonio Perkins is a former Oklahoma cornerback, and cousin Jordan Thompson is a current West Virginia receiver. Is the son of Kori, who runs a home business and is the daughter of two teachers. Kori is half-Kiowa. Has two younger brothers, Casey and Cade, and Casey is a 2018 quarterback who might be further along for his age than Kendal was as a sophomore, Charles says.

Education » Was a Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Trophy winner at Southmoore High as the nation’s premier black scholar-athlete. Had a 4.3 GPA in high school. Graduated in three years from Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in communications. According to his U. bio, plans to pursue a postgraduate degree in educational psychology.

Attributes » Most often, when speaking about Thompson, his coaches talk about his ability to “extend plays.” A couple were careful to make the distinction though that he isn’t so much a rusher as somebody who can break free from the pocket and keep his eyes downfield to find a receiver. And while his father had exceptional breakaway speed, former Southmoore coach Chris Jensen says Kendal’s strength is that he can quickly change directions.

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Charles Thompson.

Charles was a wishbone quarterback for Oklahoma in 1987 and 1988. He embodied the heights of Sooners football, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated after leading Barry Switzer’s No. 2 Sooners to a win over Tom Osbourne’s No. 1 Huskers, and he embodied the lows of Sooners football, appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a prison jumpsuit after trying to sell cocaine to a federal agent.

For his crime, Charles lost 17 months of his free life and a chance to be a star in the National Football League.

Instead, he became a fine running back in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe. He became a local radio personality, a quarterback trainer and a sales consultant.

He became a father.

In that, fatherhood, lies his shot at absolution.

He tells Kendal: "You want to be remembered as more than the son of Charles Thompson. You want to flip the script. You want Charles Thompson to be remembered as Kendal’s dad."


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Ready, set, tyke! • Views range on Thompson’s first week as a Ute, but it has gone considerably better than his initial athletic debut.

At 3, he started T-ball, and Charles wasn’t impressed.

"I guess he was expecting me to be some stud that early, and I was out in left field playing in the dirt, with my back facing the plate," Kendal remembers, smiling.

Charles eventually decided Kendal’s greatest talent was that he could quickly process information, and so he determined that Kendal would become a quarterback. Not a wishbone quarterback, like Charles, but a drop-back, pocket-passing, NFL quarterback.

When Kendal was 7, Charles began sitting him down for regular film sessions.

If Kendal saw seven defenders on one side of the ball, that meant there were four on the other, Charles would tell him.

"He used to hate it," Charles admits, but, "Kendal was formed to really understand the game from a schematic and fundamental and preparation standpoint."

By age 9, he was calling audibles. Charles coached Kendal’s youth teams and booked travel games to acquaint Kendal with road environments. Once, in Kansas, their team was down four when 12-year-old Kendal took the field for a last-ditch drive.

Before Charles could call in the play, Kendal implored, "Dad, I’ve got it, I’ve got it."

His call: a bootleg play-action throwback pass.

It went for a touchdown, and the Thompsons won.

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