SEATTLE (AP) Shaq Thompson still isn't sure what position he'll play in the NFL. He's willing to give up his senior season at Washington to see which NFL team will take the chance on his potential.
Thompson announced Monday he is forgoing his senior season at Washington and will declare for the NFL draft. It's another blow to Washington's defense that will now lose three AP first-team All-America selections: Thompson, linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha and defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Thompson was honored as an all-purpose player after spending part of the season as Washington's starting running back.
But Thompson's departure was not unexpected. His versatility and athleticism had his name climbing projected draft boards throughout the season.
''It feels good that I could get it out and not keep it a secret anymore,'' Thompson said on a conference call Monday night. ''Start of a new life, a new chapter. I'm ready to go for this ride.''
Thompson finished his junior season with 81 tackles and scored four defensive touchdowns, including three on fumble returns. He added 456 yards rushing and two touchdowns on offense.
''Shaq Thompson has been a wonderful representative of the University of Washington and the Husky football team, and he has our full support as he takes this important step,'' Washington coach Chris Petersen said. ''I look forward to what's to come for him and to watching him embark on what will be a long, successful NFL career.''
Thompson has been projected as a high first-round pick because of his athleticism. The lingering question for Thompson is what his best position in the NFL will be. Thompson started his college career as a safety before moving to linebacker.
And despite his success as a running back, Thompson is intent on remaining a defensive player.
Thompson was already in San Diego prepare to being pre-draft training. He said his intent is to train as an outside linebacker, while also putting in work as a defensive back to increase his chance. His position of choice in the NFL: Outside linebacker first, strong safety second.
''I just really want to make progress and keep getting better,'' Thompson said.
Washington also announced that backup quarterback Troy Williams will transfer. Williams lost a competition for the starting job in fall camp, but appeared in five games and made one start for the Huskies this season against Arizona State. Williams struggled in miserable weather conditions in his lone start.
Williams' transfer comes on the day the Huskies welcomed star prep quarterback Jake Browning from California. Browning graduated high school early and enrolled at Washington in time for winter quarter.
Browning threw for a record 91 touchdown passes at Folsom High this season and 229 for his prep career. Browning threw for 5,790 yards this season.