The reports are flying left and right and it’s shocked me tonight to learn that former Oakland Tech High football star Fred Thompson has died. Oregon State officials confirmed in a release that Thompson died early Wednesday evening. Bay Area News Group colleague Phil Jensen also confirmed Thompson’s passing with Oakland Tech coach Delton Edwards, who was understandably shaken. Thompson had been playing basketball at a recreation center on campus when he collapsed. He was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
On a personal level, this is pretty tough to hear. Thompson was a standout for Tech. In his senior year in 2009, he collected 90 tackles and seven sacks and even had an interception returned for a touchdown. The first time I ever interviewed Thompson was after the game in which he had the pick six. As good of a player as he was, he was an even better kid with a great personality. I would routinely see him whenever I was at a basketball game at Tech and he was always there as the biggest and loudest cheerleader.
When he signed his letter of intent to Oregon State in Feb. 2010, I remember talking to him. I relayed some of the feedback about him we had received during the process of selecting that year’s Cream of the Crop. (He was No. 2 behind current Stanford quarterback Brett Nottingham of Monte Vista). One quote was something to the effect of, “If there’s a player from this group that can play on Sundays, it’s him.” His eyes lit up at that. He had the talent and had the fire to make that happen. It’s very sad to see that pursuit come to an end. I got a chance to see and speak briefly to Fred in the tunnel of AT&T Park about a month ago when Oregon State was playing Cal. He wasn’t on the active roster this year, but was at the game and I stopped and talked to him briefly. It’s shocking now to know he’s gone. My prayers go out to his family, friends and the Oakland Tech and Oregon State communities.