Eight months ago, Shurod Thompson was a baby deer – the grace and power were in there, somewhere, but under a lot of knee knocking and stumbling.
Now, at 6-foot-3, 193 pounds, the 2016 safety out of Pittsburg (Calif.) is a force. He's a physical presence in the middle who, midway through the season, saw the game slow down to a crawl, and his numbers bear that out. Thompson matured from wanting to play receiver (where he caught two balls for 25 yards), where his talents would frankly be wasted, to becoming a dominant defender. He was second on the team with 71 stops and made 4.0 tackles for loss. His three interceptions led the tam, and his 36 interception return yards ranked second. He also recovered one fumble, returning it seventy yards, and forced two fumbles. Thompson added a blocked field goal for good measure. Remember now: He's just a sophomore.
"I got used to the game," Thompson said. "At first, it moved fast, at the beginning of the season. Coaches got me used to it and got my feet wet, and the game slowed down for me, and I was just playing ball after that."
After participating in a camp in the East Bay, Thompson made his way over to Berkeley. He'd visited the California campus on multiple occasions as part of the school's camps, but had never come as an honest-to-goodness prospect. Now, he's arrived.
"I had fun out there," Thompson said. "It was nice. They took us on a tour to see the library, we met the new DB coach (Greg Burns), and we saw a lot of the coaches."
Thompson – who currently projects as a safety, but like another Thompson (Shaq), he could wind up playing a hybrid linebacker-safety position in college if he gets any bigger – took a quick liking to the Bears' new man in charge of the defensive backfield.
"He seemed nice, and he knows what he wants to do," Thompson said. "He wants to make a difference."
Thompson could definitely be a difference-maker, in his own right, and Cal is certainly eyeing him for the 2016 cycle.
"Right now, I'm a safety, but they said I could be a linebacker, also," said Thompson, who appropriately enough also talked to still-tentatively-and-not-at-all-officially-titled linebackers coach Andy Buh. "It was awesome. They showed a lot of interest in me, and I really like the coaches, what they're trying to do with the program, and it's nice."
Thompson's favorite part, in fact, was talking to Buh, the former defensive coordinator.
"I got to know all of them a little more and talk to them," Thompson said. "We were talking about the camp today, and they want to see me soon at spring ball practices, and at one of their camps."
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