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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Washington gets Shaq

By Ted Miller

Monday wasn't a Banner Day for Washington recruiting, but sometimes it takes a Shaq to shelter a class.

(I know. Sorry).

After offensive lineman Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) picked USC over Washington, the Huskies shortly  thereafter landed a commitment from perhaps the nation's No. 1 safety: Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant).

Thompson was previously committed to California, so this could be termed the first flip from the Bears to the Huskies for former Cal assistant Tosh Lupoi.

It turns out, however, that the Huskies actually beat out Oregon for Thompson's services. From ESPN Recruiting's Greg Biggins:

Here’s how close it was between Washington and Oregon. Last week, Thomson met with Arik Armstead and the two made a pact to play their college ball together. Oregon was the choice for both, and Thompson even went out and bought a Ducks hat and engraved his name in it.

Shortly afterwards, Thompson thought more about his decision and decided that Washington was a better fit. He let Armstead know and then took an unofficial visit over the weekend to Seattle to check out the Huskies one more time. Just one more look was all it took for the talented safety, and the Huskies landed what could arguably be their biggest recruit in years.


But, yes, Lupoi made a difference for the Huskies -- as well as new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox:

“He was the one guy I was close with on the staff,” Thompson said. “I knew he wouldn’t be coaching me, but just knowing he was there was big for me. When he left, I immediately opened up my recruitment and decided to check out my options.”

As big as Lupoi was, new Husky defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox might have played an even bigger role. Wilcox recruited Thompson’s older brother Syd Thompson to Cal seven years ago, and the family was very comfortable with him.


The Huskies have 19 commitments, and Thompson is the highest rated.

The Huskies will go up against Cal for a number of other recruits on Wednesday, national signing day. Will Lupoi make a difference again?