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October 8, 2014 at 8:31 AM

UW’s Shaq Thompson will take time with NFL decision

Washington's Shaq Thompson returns a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown against Stanford. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

Washington’s Shaq Thompson returns a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown against Stanford. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

It’s awfully early to be talking about this, but the topic will only gain more traction as the season rolls on, especially if he continues to play at a high level.

Will Shaq Thompson declare for the NFL draft after this season?

“I’m not thinking about that right now,” the UW junior linebacker said Tuesday. “I’m just trying to finish this season off with my team. We’ll sit down after the season and figure it out.”

It’s a good answer, and the only answer he should give at this point. There’s a ton of season still to be played, and then plenty of time in December and January for Thompson and his family to make that decision.

It’s a nice position to be in, of course, with many draft analysts continuing to project Thompson as a first-round pick. Who knows how accurate those are, but we do know he’s a special, versatile talent having his best season for UW.

Thompson’s oldest brother, Syd’Quan, was a standout cornerback at Cal and was a seventh-round draft pick by the Broncos in 2010. His pro career has been stalled by injuries.

“That really motivates me,” Shaq said. “I know he’s been there, and I know I have to try get there.”

Syd’Quan’s advice to Shaq? Just worry about today.

“The NFL’s not going anywhere,” Syd’Quan said. “You want to value what’s in front of you right now. Just take advantage of each day, and each day is going to work toward that day when you make that decision. Just play and get better every day.”

Patty Thompson said she will support her son’s decision either way.

“It’s your journey. You have to pave it out the same way you did in high school figuring out college,’” she told him. “’It’s your body, your mind and we’re here to support you.’

“It’d be nice to get another year there (at UW), but I’m not the one doing it. He’ll just wait until the season’s over. Shaq’s the type — he’ll change shoes every two minutes, and if your shoes are changing that much, your mind probably is too.”

Syd’Quan Thompson felt awful.

As a redshirt freshman, he made his collegiate debut for the Cal Bears as a starting cornerback on the road in the 2006 season opener before at 106,000 fans at Tennessee.

Syd’Quan, playing with a large cast covering his broken wrist, matched up against Tennessee’s standout receiver, Robert Meachem, who burned the young corner for touchdown plays of 42 and 80 yards in Cal’s 35-18 loss.

“That’s how I started my career,” Syd’Quan recalled Tuesday. “I was down.”

As he headed to the team bus after the game, Syd’Quan was stopped by Cal’s defensive coordinator, who offered encouragement that Syd’Quan would never forget.

“You’re my guy and I’m going to stick with you,” Bob Gregory told him.

“From there on out,” Syd’Quan said, “he was nothing but loyal and helpful in my journey. I have the utmost respect for him. We had a lot of good times there together.”

Cal would rise to No. 2 in the nation during the 2007 season, and Syd’Quan wound up starting every game of his four-year career in Berkeley — a school-record 52 games — twice earning first-team all-Pac-12 honors at cornerback.

His NFL career was derailed by injuries, and he’s back at Grant High School in Sacramento, coaching the defense and hoping for one more shot at The League.

Gregory, meanwhile, is in his first season as UW’s linebackers coach — coaching Syd’Quan’s youngest brother.

“It’s crazy how it all falls out. I’m exited for both of them,” Syd’Quan said.

Gregory said there isn’t much added emotion for his return to Berkeley with the Huskies on Saturday.

“We loved it there. It was a great place,” Gregory said. “Our two boys were basically born there and raised there for eight years. We’ve got a lot of friends, and it’ll be fun to go back. And they’re improving. They’re a better team.”

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