By Rob Calogne
While Jahvid Best is the most sought after player on the California Golden Bears' football team, on the field Syd'Quan Thompson is probably the most avoided. That's what happens when you are arguably the best shutdown corner in all of college football. I only say 'arguably' because I haven't seen all 1,500 or so corners in college ball, but I have been fortunate enough to compare him to the best corner in the pro's--Nnamdi Asomugha. While at the Raiders' training camp, I marveled at how difficult it was for receivers to get any separation from the Cal alum. When they zigged, so did Asomugha. When they zagged, he did too. When those speedy receivers put it into overdrive, he glided along without missing a beat.
Poetry in motion, right? After thinking that it would be a while before seeing anyone as good as Asomugha, you can imagine my surprise when I found a performance equal to his right on the field of Memorial Stadium. I found that performance from Thompson:
I'm real happy. This has been a good camp, been a healthy camp for me. Last year, I got injured right before--a couple weeks before the first game. So, I'm happy I'm been able to stay healthy and set a good example for this team.
-Thompson on how happy he is with how camp went
During a session of one-on-one's with defensive backs covering receivers, I watched Thompson sit in the hip pocket of Verran Tucker--the same Tucker who won one of Cal's starting receiver jobs to start the season. Tucker streaked ten yards up field, cut on a dime towards the sidelines, then cut quickly again up the field. Thompson never let Tucker get farther away than a forearm's length, maybe less. What made the battle so impressive wasn't just the fact that Thompson wasn't fooled on a double-move by the receiver. The coverage was so extraordinary because that double-move by Tucker was impressive and the receiver still looked like he was handcuffed to Thompson.