Shaq Thompson has been a big-time prospect for years at Sacramento (Calif.) Grant and that's one reason why he's looking forward to playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl to cap his prep career.
The five-star safety wants to compete against many of the other top players across the country and he'll get his chance for a week in San Antonio.
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"I'm very excited," Thompson said. "I can't wait to play in this game because I worked hard and I've been pushed since my freshman and sophomore years. I'd like to thank my coaches, I'd like to thank the players I've played with and practiced with because they really pushed me. I'm glad to be here and play in this All-American game.
"It's going to be very, very fun. Everybody is going to the next level - five-stars, four-stars, even good three-stars are going to be there. I'm going to have to really compete. I'm going to play safety so I'm going to compete with everybody and it's going to be a lot of fun."
Since Thompson is such a talented prospect, colleges from across the country have been trying to land his commitment for some time. The five-star had committed to Cal in early March but about a week later decided to reopen his recruitment and take some official visits.
The Golden Bears are still within striking distance to land Thompson but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect who's the top-rated safety and No. 12 recruit in the 2012 class by Rivals.com said it's two other Pac-12 schools tied for the lead.
"Oregon and Washington are tied," Thompson said. "There is no leader, nothing like that. I like Oregon, I like Washington and I like Cal.
"Both schools (Oregon and Washington) have great coaches and a great program. I love both programs. Washington's stadium is crazy and I love it there because it's just like San Francisco and that feels just like home to me.
"I liked Oregon but the only bad thing is it's a little too small. It's like a box and you have to jam things in there but I love Oregon. They have a nice program there."
Cal is right behind the Ducks and the Huskies for Thompson, who said his only concern is that the Golden Bears are having a tough time at quarterback. That might be an issue as Thompson, whose brother Syd'Quan played in Berkeley, examines all the schools remaining on his list.
"Cal is No. 2 because Oregon and Washington are tied for first," Thompson said. "I love Cal but it's really just the way they're playing. They're doing good on defense but it's like the quarterback spot is where they're struggling. Cal needs a good quarterback because they have every other spot there."
All this could change especially because Thompson, second in the California state rankings behind fellow Army All-American defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy, is visiting Notre Dame this weekend. It's easily one of the biggest prospect lineups anywhere in the country this season - and Thompson is looking forward to seeing South Bend.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I get to meet people from California that I don't know, people from the East Coast, people from the Midwest. I know the game is going to be good and people are saying Notre Dame has the best stadium in college. That will be a great experience to remember."
The first time around Thompson made a snap decision to commit. After reopening his recruitment, considering other places and taking a closer look at programs across the country, the Sacramento Grant standout is taking a more deliberate approach before pledging again.
It's still going to be action-packed, though, since Thompson is planning to announce his final decision in San Antonio on national television.
"I'm going to wait it out and I'm going to make my decision at the Army game," Thompson said. "It's going to be a big decision. It's going to be something to always remember."