Shaq Thompson is starting to get more love in the Heisman Trophy discussion. The Heisman isn’t a new topic for Chris Petersen.
At Boise State, Petersen had quarterback Kellen Moore, the Prosser, Wash, native, who became the first college quarterback to lead his team to 50 wins in his career. Moore wound up as a Heisman finalist in 2010, finishing fourth.
So when Petersen was asked Monday about Thompson entering the fringes of the Heisman discussion, he turned the question back.
“I go back to ask you guys, because you guys are the guys that do this stuff – what is the Heisman Trophy winner? What is it? Someone help me with that, and then I can answer your question,” he said.
“In theory,” Christian Caple of the Tacoma News Tribune said, “the best college football player in the country.”
“So, ‘theory,'” Petersen said, “can you take that out? Or is that what it is?”
“Depends on how you approach it.”
“Hey, I don’t get a chance to watch everybody around the country,” Petersen said. “But I do see a lot. And I haven’t seen a better football player out there than that guy (Thompson). A better, flat-out football player – in your words, ‘best football player’ in college football. There might be somebody who’s the same, all those type of things, but a football player? I know there are some good ones out there, but what this guy does in terms of special teams and offense and defense and all those things, I haven’t seen a better one.”
Thompson will “probably” start again at running back when the Huskies (6-3, 2-3) host No. 18 UCLA (7-2, 4-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.
“He’ll play some offense, and he’ll probably play some defense as well,” Petersen said.
Thompson, for the first time in his UW career, played exclusively as a running back in the Huskies’ victory at Colorado on Saturday. Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington are “good to go” after recovering from their injuries suffered at Oregon a couple weeks ago, but Petersen said Thompson gives UW better big-play potential.
“I don’t think I’ve been around as good of a football player. That’s what he is. He’s just a really special football player,” Petersen said. “There’s really good running backs out there and there’s really good linebackers, and he’s really good at all of ‘em. And there’s probably guys that are out there, but (their team) has depth, so they don’t need him on both sides. I think it’s kind of fun. I think it’s cool for Shaq, I think it’s cool for our team, I think it’s good for even recruiting. There’s a lot of really good high school players that play two ways, and if they’re good enough, we’ll play you two ways; we’ll figure out how to maximize your talents and how you can help the team the best.”
More love for Thompson from Washington Post’s national college football writer, Chuck Culpepper:
Shaq Thompson is not going to win the Heisman, but he would be a credit to the award. The Sacramento-raised student at Washington is a football marvel. Playing the first half of the season predominantly as a linebacker bound for shelves full of honors, Thompson not only played Hercules on the Huskies’ defense — and defense is important! — but returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown, a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown, a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown and a fumble 100 yards for a touchdown.
When the team needed help at running back, he went over there, where the last two weeks he gained 98 yards against Arizona State and 215 all-purpose yards against Colorado, including a 24-yard touchdown run and a 41-yard catch-and-run to set up another score.
He’s happy to help out, but when Seattle reporters asked for his true wish, he said of linebacker, “You get to hit people instead of getting hit.”
What a player.