This week the Pac-12 blog will finish looking around the conference at several players who really stood out during spring ball. It’s only 15 practices, but it’s enough time to catch the eyes of coaches and gain momentum going into the season.
We’re one post from the end, stopping in at Washington.
Breakout player: LB Shaq Thompson
2013 statistics: 78 tackles, .5 sack, 1 interception
The case for Thompson: Several of the players we’ve profiled so far sat out or redshirted last season, so they didn’t have much of an impact outside of the scout team. Thompson is a bit different in that regard. He was Washington’s second-leading tackler a season ago and was as consistent as anyone on the defense in 2013.
However, the Huskies are in dire need of a serious offensive threat and this spring, Thompson broke out as a possible candidate. Washington needs to replace the 1,870 rushing yards that Bishop Sankey produced last season and through spring practices, Washington coach Chris Petersen experimented with Thompson on both sides of the ball even though he has never coached a true two-way star.
However, the Pac-12 certainly has seen its fair share -- UCLA’s LB/RB Myles Jack is the most recent example. UCLA coach Jim Mora said earlier this season that Jack will “touch the ball” on offense, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll continue to be the two-way player that UCLA leaned on in 2013. Could Thompson be the next one? His spring breakout season certainly gives a hint that he could contribute on both sides of the ball.
Other breakout players: