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Junior Keytaon Thompson and Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens talk about competing for the same position for the 2019 Bulldog season.
Mackenzie Salmon, Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE – Joe Moorhead said Thursday that junior quarterback Keytaon Thompson would need to win a game for Mississippi State at some point during the 2019 season. 

On Friday, Thompson sent a message that maybe that won’t be the case. 

One day after Moorhead named graduate transfer Tommy Stevens the team’s starting quarterback, Thompson entered his name into the NCAA’s transfer portal. A Mississippi State spokesperson confirmed the report with the Clarion Ledger. 

Stevens and Thompson engaged in a quarterback competition from the day the former announced his decision to transfer to MSU in May. The battle accelerated when preseason training camp began on Aug. 2. 

The competition was close in its early stages, but Stevens had a “significant” edge when it came to passing statistics by the end of it, Moorhead said. Stevens did a better job of generating explosive plays and limiting turnovers than Thompson did, Moorhead said. 

Thompson waited for two years in Nick Fitzgerald’s shadow in Starkville. Before Stevens arrived, he was slated to take the reins of the Bulldog offense. If he were to stay at MSU, he’d be behind another quarterback on the depth chart for the third straight season. 

Moorhead said Thompson wanted badly to win the starting job. 

“Like any competitor, especially one in this conference playing at that position, I wouldn’t say he took it well because that is not what I want to infer,” Moorhead said when asked how Thompson received the news that Stevens would be the starter. “But he certainly understood what the process was and understood what the decision-making criteria was.”

Thompson has started two games in his collegiate career. He has completed 50-of-105 passing attempts (47.6 percent) with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He has rushed 99 times for 672 yards and 10 scores. 

Moorhead has talked glowingly about the two younger quarterbacks on his roster, true freshman Garrett Shrader and redshirt freshman Jalen Mayden. If Thompson does indeed depart, Shrader would slide into the backup role and Mayden would be third-string.

Shrader enrolled early and went through Outback Bowl practices and spring ball with the team. Mayden appeared in three games during his redshirt season last year. He had seven rushing attempts for 32 yards and went 1-for-2 through the air for nine yards. 

Contact Tyler Horka at [email protected]. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler’s work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!