Thompson brought his mother Felicia Ross, his sister, his twin uncles Kirk and Keith Ross, his nephew, his two little cousins and his uncle’s girlfriend to Berkeley, to show them just where he’d be spending his next four years.
“It was a good deal to bring my family up here, bring my mom, let her meet the coach, let her get used to the campus, to see where I’ll end up for the next four years of my life,” Thompson said. “That was a good deal. We sat down and talked to coach [Sonny] Dykes about the academics, the academic plan, took the tour, showed them the weight room, see the facilities, and we just walked around, talking about Cal.”
Thompson first saw the facilities way back during the summer after his freshman year. He attended the Bears’ summer camp – the first run by Sonny Dykes and staff – and played receiver. Only at the urging of his then-coach at Pittsburg (Calif.), Manny Chavez, did he try his hand at safety. There were glimpses of talent, flashes of ability. He was still a baby deer, but there were some budding antlers there.
Fast forward two years, and Thompson has been to every Cal summer camp since that first one, and he is now the veritable king of the forest – a four-star safety – the No. 11 safety in the nation, the third-best safety in the West, and the second-best safety in the state of California.
On Saturday Thompson and his kin also got to spend time with the coaching staff, stock up on Cal gear at the student store and see the entire facility, which was important for Thompson.
“It helps a lot,” Thompson said. “My mom really likes it, my family likes it. It’s the best fit for me, so that’s a good thing, as well.
“I have a lot of support, so I wanted them to come see where I’m going to spend my next four years,” said Thompson, who has leaned on that support system throughout a challenging childhood.
Thompson’s father – Shurod Thompson, Sr. – left him and Felicia when Shurod, Jr., was still in elementary school. He’s heard from his father since then, and said that he talks to his father a lot, but it’s always at a distance. “We have a good relationship,” Thompson said, but he doesn’t see his father – who lives in St. Louis -- that much.
“My mom’s been a single parent, and my twin uncles, they’ve been there for me,” said Thompson. “They’re like father figures in my life. My mom never really had a job when I started getting older. We’ve lived on welfare. But, they’re always pushing me, giving me motivation to play football and stay focused in school, because that’s something they never accomplished. They wish they could go back and do it, so I’m doing it for everybody. I want to make everybody happy and proud of the man I become.”
That desire to pay back his family for everything they’ve done for him was part of the impetus behind bringing the whole clan together at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
“Oh, yeah,” Thompson said, “that was definitely a part of it.”
That desire to stay ome, and do the Bay Area – and his family – proud, is also behind Thompson’s work behind the scenes to feverishly recruit others to his cause, including local stars Devin Asiasi and Chris Taylor-Yamanoha.
Will they join him in Berkeley? Only time will tell.