He was the most heralded recruit to come through Montlake since Jake Locker in 2006, and he was the first true freshman to step in from day one and make an immediate impact at UW since Reggie Williams in 2001.
With all the hype surrounding him, Shaq Thompson didn’t disappoint. Not only did he start from week one, he switched positions and contributed right away compiling 74 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions. He did all of this without being on campus during the summer because he was playing professional baseball, albeit not well (0-39 with 37 strikeouts).
To put that in perspective, Shaq came in having not gotten himself in football shape or gone through the summer conditioning with his team, and still was one of the two or three best defensive players on the field the entire season.
While he continues to dabble in baseball, we know that Thompson has been working out and is in football shape. He’s been an active participant of the program for year, which means Ivan Lewis has taken this once in a generation athlete and (hopefully) molded him into a physical specimen not to be trifled with on the football field.
This guy did things last year that no freshman should be able to do – he didn’t get physically overmatched like a lot of 18-year-olds, he wasn’t overwhelmed by the speed of the game and he was always in the middle of the action. In fact, more often than not, he forced the action and was a disruptive force. Quite frankly, the Husky defense has not had a player like that since the mid 90s.
The best part about Thompson is that he is only a sophomore; he has barely scratched the surface of his ability. This year he should be the leader of the defense, along with Sean Parker in the secondary.
He is part of a linebacking corps that returns all three starters from a year ago. He should be flying around the field, making plays and causing chaos. And he should be doing it for another two years before the NFL comes calling.
Our first look at the new Shaq comes on Saturday, during the spring game. Let’s hope that Lewis did his best and Thompson is looking better than ever.