Shaq Thompson Headshot (via goarmyphotos)
First he was a Cal verbal. Then he wasn't. Then he was looking at Washington, favoring Washington, rejecting Oregon, examining Notre Dame, then taking a look at USC, then eliminated USC. Cal was part of the discussion throughout the process.
Whether it was a show or not, it makes no difference. Because when it was all done, Shaq Thompson returned to the Bears.
The US Army Player of the Year Award finalist made his final call at the Army All-American Game, at long last completing a process the same way he started it--a sturdy Golden Bear.
Welcome home Shaq. GO BEARS!
(We'll have more on the other Cal commits in the upcoming hours.)
It's impossible to talk about Shaq without talking about Syd'Quan. The Squid was a lockdown corner for Cal and made the most of his smaller frame with smothering defense on Pac-12 receivers. He was one of the best defensive backs in Cal football history and seemed to always be making plays on the ball even if the receiver had a chance to make a play.
Despite all that production, almost everyone agrees though that Syd's little brother is more talented. And they've been saying that since Squid left us three years ago.
It's not just talent though, as Shaq utilizes his work ethic to produce at the highest possible level on the field. Thompson talked to Damon Sayles of ESPN about how living in Sacramento has helped mold him into the player he is.
There's also football, and while some of the people he's the closest to chose alternative lifestyles, Thompson chose to focus his attention on using football as an avenue for a better life for himself and his family. It helps that the four-star Grant High School safety has had his brother, Denver Broncos cornerback Syd'Quan Thompson, to use as a blueprint of sorts.
"I'm going to keep it real; football was a savior for me," Thompson said. "I have some family members in gangs. They played sports, but it didn't work for them like that. I want it to work out for me. That's why I work so hard."
Thompson is one of those players to whom coaches like to tip their hats. When offered the chance to take a negative route, he has decided to go the other way. Thompson sees every hit, interception, catch and touchdown as a reason to keep striving to be a standout -- and a reason why not to be led astray.
"I'm trying to get my message out to the young people out there trying to get into gangs," Thompson said. "Everybody can do something in their life. You've just got to stay focused and work hard for it."
Thompson joins DeSean Jackson and Keenan Allen as the top recruits coming out of high school in the Tedford era to end up in Strawberry Canyon. Thompson might be the most versatile of the bunch though, having shown the ability to play almost every skill position on the football field on offense, defense, and special teams.
Here are his senior highlights, which are mostly on one side of the ball. Here, you can see his athletic ability on offense.
Here are his junior highlights, which show more of the full package--quarterback, running back, wide receiver, special teams returner, and his likely natural position in college at safety.
With three seniors graduating at the safety position and both starting spots vacant, Thompson has a great chance to start from the moment he steps on the field.
Tosh Lupoi was Shaq's main recruiter. Shaq also entertained offers from Notre Dame, USC, Washington, Oregon, ASU, UCLA, Alabama and Auburn and interest from Michigan and Florida.
Here are the rankings.
- Rivals: 7th top recruit in the country, best safety in the country, best recruit in California
- 247Sports: 10th best recruit in the country, top athlete in the country, third best recruit in California
- ESPN: 22nd best recruit in the country, 3rd best safety in the country, 2nd best recruit in California
- Scout: 11th best recruit in the country, top safety in the country