Did Shaq save the Washington Huskies’ recruiting class?
No, we aren’t talking about the future Hall of Fame NBA center and subpar actor/ rapper.
No, this would be Shaquille “Shaq” Thompson, who with his announced commitment to Washington via his Twitter account late Monday night, might have helped resurrect a Huskies recruiting class that beforehand was bordering on mediocre.
Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound hard-hitting safety out of Sacramento’s Grant High School, figures to be the jewel of UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s fourth class, which will be finalized sometime today as recruits from all over the country will sign NCAA national letters of intent to accept scholarships at their chosen schools.
Sarkisian will meet with the media at 2 p.m. to discuss his class, and then later, he and his staff will meet with a large group of boosters, donors and fans at the Alaska Airlines Arena.
Thompson might be the biggest recruit of the Sarkisian era, even eclipsing wide receiver Kasen Williams, who was a Parade All-American.
“In the 15 years, I’ve been watching Californian players, he’s probably the best safety I’ve seen,” ESPN west coast recruiting coordinator Greg Biggins told ESPN 710. “You break his game down, he really doesn’t have any weaknesses. It’s a huge pick-up. Shaq Thompson is a once-in-a-decade-type player.”
Thompson had been committed to California for about a month. However, when the Huskies hired Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Thompson opened up his recruitment. Lupoi’s presence was a major factor. But Wilcox, who once coached Thompson’s older brother, Syd’Quam, at Cal, also helped in getting a game-changing player for a defense desperately in need of them.
Thompson’s announcement helped take the sting away of losing yet another top in-state player. When Lakes’ Zach Banner announced he was attending USC on Monday, it meant that the Huskies officially lost out on five of the top Washington high school players this year. Besides Banner, fellow offensive linemen Josh Garnett of Puyallup and Walker Williams of Tacoma Baptist committed to Stanford and Wisconsin, respectively, and running back KeiVarae Russell opted for Notre Dame. A late run at Lakes wide receiver Cedric Dozier also came up short.
Washington’s top in-state recruit is Mercer Island quarterback Jeff Lindquist, who has been committed to the Huskies all season. The four-star recruit leads a group of solid, if unspectacular local commitments.
While the Huskies’ “fence around the state” Sarkisian often boasted of maintaining has a few holes, Washington will have some incoming talent in this class thanks to top out-of-state recruits.
Besides Thompson, quarterback Cyler Miles of Denver has remained committed to the Huskies despite a late push from USC. The Huskies also added three good commits on Tuesday.
Washington got a pair of top receivers in Jordan Payton and Jaydon Mickens – both News Tribune Western 100 players – while also getting a commitment from offensive lineman Shane Brostek.
Payton, a play-making receiver out of Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, Calif., had also been committed to Cal. He had 61 catches for 769 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
However, the hiring of Lupoi and Cal wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau as the offensive coordinator at Washington proved to be a factor for the 6-2, 200-pounder. Mickens is a 5-7, 175-pound speedster out of famed Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. He had been previously committed to USC and then to Oklahoma State. The multipurpose back rushed for 378 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 558 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
The addition of the 6-3, 300-pound Brostek proves to be even bigger with the failure to land any of the three in-state linemen. He is the Huskies’ fourth offensive line commit, and probably the best. The son of former Huskies center, Bern Brostek, Shane was a three-star offensive linemen who projects as a guard for UW.
The addition of those three players have pushed Huskies recruiting class rankings into the Top 25 for both Rivals and Scout.
And any possible surprise signings tomorrow – like cornerback Brandon Beaver – will only bolster a class that has steadily gotten better with each passing day.