Shaq Thompson was a running back to behold at Grant High School, the best big-back sprinter we’ve seen in 25 years on the local beat.
He could gain punishing yards up the middle, but he was especially difficult to corner as a lateral runner, blessed with cutback ability that left many defenders tackling shadows.
Is the Shaq run attack back?
Now preparing for his junior season at linebacker at Washington, the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Thompson has offered new coach Chris Petersen a chance to turbo-boost the Huskies’ ground game. Thompson said he lives to play, and Petersen – who played quarterback at Yuba City High School, Sacramento City College and UC Davis – said he is always open to options.
That’s why Petersen had Thompson take handoffs at spring drills in Seattle. While coaching at Boise State, Petersen saw film of Thompson running the ball at Grant and is aware of his state-meet track history. .
“I miss running the ball, but I’m a linebacker, and that’s my focus,” Thompson said. “But it would be fun. I’ll do anything.”
Washington defensive back Marcus Peters is already a fan of Thompson the running back. “He’s a monster, man,” Peters told Seattle reporters after a practice. “It’s going to be real unique to see him run the ball.”
Around the region – Nolan Merker of Sheldon and Dre Terrell of Pleasant Grove have accepted preferred walk-on status with Sacramento State’s football team, meaning they are assured of roster spots without scholarships. We expect both to contribute. Merker, a quarterback and punter, said, “I’ll do anything to get on the field.” Terrell played quarterback, special teams and cornerback, though he said he might wind up as a wide receiver.• New American River College football coach Jon Osterhout has hired Lou Baiz , an old friend and colleague, to run the Beavers’ defense. Osterhout and Baiz coached together for nine years at Sac State. Baiz coached the defense at Folsom High the past two years, in which the Bulldogs posted back-to-back 14-1 seasons. Osterhout also hired former Sheldon head coach Josh Crabtree to coach the offensive line, a job Osterhout will relinquish after taking over the head-coaching duties from Jerry Haflich .
• Jesuit has an emerging football/basketball recruit in Kori Collons , a 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior. His father, Ferric , played both sports at Jesuit in the 1980s and became a defensive lineman for Cal and the New England Patriots. A tight end in football, Collons runs the floor and rebounds as a center in basketball, much like his father a generation ago. Said a smiling Collons: “I love playing both (sports). My dad’s here watching us at Sleep Train. I’m looking forward to the next year and a half ... ”
• Alex Van Dyke delivered perhaps the best sportsmanship gesture of the Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championships at Sleep Train Arena, and the Cosumnes Oaks forward did so without uttering a word. After fouling out in Saturday’s Division II championship game loss to Folsom, Van Dyke, highly respected on campus and headed to UCLA to play football, waved off his school’s rooting section that chanted words of disagreement to the referees.
• The National Football Foundation will honor more than 35 scholar-athletes from local high schools and colleges Thursday at the Elks Lodge on Riverside Boulevard. Retired UC Davis football coach Bob Biggs is the keynote speaker. Among the honorees who will speak are Bee co-Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Meteer of Del Oro, headed to Sac State, and Bee All-Metro lineman Nifae Lealao of Capital Christian, headed to Vanderbilt. Van Dyke will also be recognized. Special awards will be presented to Al Hooker and Gary Quattrin , longtime area coaches who have retired.
• Franklin High football coach Mike Johnson conceded years ago the best coach in the family is his wife, Gina . Gina Johnson coached top-seeded San Joaquin Delta College to the Northern California Regional title Saturday with an 82-71 victory over rival Sierra. Delta (27-5) advanced to the state final four this weekend in Norwalk. Johnson also guided the Mustangs to state runner-up finishes in 2006 and 2009.