The Washington Huskies have been stuck in the shadow of Pac-12 counterparts like Oregon, Stanford and USC as of late, but thanks in part to the commitment of safety Shaq Thompson, the balance of power may soon be shifting in the conference.
According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Thompson rescinded his commitment to California and decided to commit to Washington instead when Cal defensive assistant Tosh Lupoi left Cal for Washington as well.
Thompson was a big get for the Huskies for several reasons. The most obvious is that by wrestling him away from California, it makes one of their rivals weaker. It isn't as if Thompson is a run-of-the-mill recruit. The ESPNU 150 ranks him as the No. 16 overall prospect in the recruiting class and the No. 3 safety.
He is a big, physical player at 6'2" and 210 lbs., so he should be able to contend with the great athletes he's sure to face in the Pac-12. The Huskies have had some success over the past couple seasons, but they usually take a backseat to the Pac-12 powers in terms of recruiting. Bringing in Thompson is a very encouraging sign that they can hold their own.
How important is Shaq Thompson's commitment to Washington?
I'm not going to suggest that Thompson alone is going to make the Huskies instant contenders in the Pac-12, but I think that landing such a high-profile player can change the culture of the program to some degree.
Washington is normally excellent at securing talent within its own region, but taking players from the greedy California universities is never easy—especially with so many quality institutions vying for those players. Thompson may have single-handedly made Washington a player in the state of California.
Thompson is going to help the Huskies on the field in a very profound way, but he helps their credibility more than anything. Most wouldn't consider Washington to be an elite program, although it has been a very good one for a long time.
Every school has to start somewhere when it comes to entering the ranks of the elite, and perhaps securing Thompson will help the Huskies do just that in the near future.
Lead image courtesy of Max Preps.