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O'Brien Leaves SDSU Football Team

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South Dakota State starting quarterback Thomas O’Brien has made the decision to leave the team, Jackrabbit head coach John Stiegelmeier announced Monday during his weekly radio show.

“We’re disappointed to lose any player, but our philosophy is to play in the present,” Stiegelmeier said. “We wish Thomas nothing but the best.”

Stiegelmeier said redshirt freshman Austin Sumner is likely to start in Saturday’s Missouri Valley Football Conference opener at Illinois State. Sumner has seen limited action in 2011, completing 6-of-7 passes for 65 yards in games at Illinois and Cal Poly. Junior Jordan Thomas also is listed on the depth chart at quarterback for SDSU.

A junior from Winona, Minn., O’Brien played in 25 career games with 20 starts. He compiled a 4-2 record as a starter in 2009, earning a spot on the MVFC All-Newcomer Team and helping the Jackrabbits to their first appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. His 4,376 career passing yards rank ninth on the all-time SDSU charts, while his 2,236 yards in 2010 also ranked ninth for a single season.

In three starts this season, O’Brien completed 63-of-107 (61.2 percent) passes for 692 yards, along with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his final start, Sept. 17 at Cal Poly, O’Brien set career highs for completions and yards as he went 28-of-45 for 376 yards with a pair of touchdowns. However, two of his three interceptions in the contest were returned for touchdowns. O’Brien’s 376 yards passing were the fourth-most in a single game by a Jackrabbit quarterback.
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