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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Shaq Thompson commits to Huskies

By Greg Biggins
ESPN Recruiting Nation

Washington was dealt some good fortune late Monday night when safety Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant), ranked 16th in the ESPNU 150, announced he was switching his commitment from California to the Huskies.

The recruiting season has been tough on Washington. The latest example of that was Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) -- a big in-state talent -- committing to USC earlier Monday.

Shaq Thompson
Shaq Thompson committed to Cal in the spring before reopening his recruitment. Now he's verbally committed to Washington.

Thompson's decision eased some of the sting. Thompson is an elite talent, rated the No. 2 player in California and the No. 3 safety in the nation. He committed to Cal in the spring but later opened up the process and took official visits to Arizona State, Cal, Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington.

"It was three main things for me," Thompson said Monday after announcing he was committed to Washington. "Washington is where my heart was at, they have the second-best graduation rate in the Pac-12, and I love the coaching staff. I'm a Husky, that's all I can say."

Last week, Thompson met with Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove) 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 on it.

Shortly afterward, 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. 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.

Thompson is an instant impact player and has been one of the region's top prospects since his sophomore year. He'll join his best friend and former Grant teammate James Sample in the secondary, giving the Huskies two extremely physical and hard-hitting safeties.

Many will point to ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi joining the Huskies staff as playing an important role in Thompson's recruitment. Lupoi has been recruiting him for three years, and when he left Cal's program, Thompson was heartbroken.

"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 Huskies 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.

"We trust J-Cox," said Thompson's uncle, B.T. Thompson, who helped oversee his nephew's recruitment. "He's like family and we know he'll look after Shaq, and that's big. Not only that, he's a heck of a coach and has been successful everywhere he has been. He'll turn that defense around and the offense is already rolling."