When Shaun Shivers started playing running back at the age of 8 in South Florida, his coaches told him to grab the ball and run straight for the sideline. It was the easiest role to play – he was generally the fastest player on the pitch and always the smallest.
So Shivers did as he was told. That is, until he changed youth football leagues, and coaches said the reason he was always running on the sideline was because he couldn’t run in the sideline. middle.
âI can run in the middle, mom,â Joy McIntyre remembers her son telling her.
So she went to buy some cones and set them up in the yard. And every day, Shivers would go out and practice running between them like they were linemen. That’s part of the reason why he generally likes to run through defenders rather than around them – they’re in the way he’s set for himself.
This is the story of Shivers’ career. He’s a 5-foot-7 running back from a football field, so he’s spent his entire life hearing everything he can’t do. Run to the middle. Sign up with an SEC school. Make a real contribution on the ground.
It has always upset McIntyre. For her son, however, it was fuel.
âHe likes it when people say he can’t do that or that he’s not that person,â McIntyre said. “It’s kind of like, ‘OK, is this how you feel? It doesn’t matter. I will show you.'”
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He owns. The thrills rushed over 6,000 yards at Chaminade-Madonna Prep, including 1,807 in a senior season that ended in a state championship. He signed with Auburn football as a four star rookie. He immediately entered the field, rushing for 371 yards as a rookie. He enters his senior season with 67 yards to reach 1,000 for his career.
âI can’t say enough good things about Shaun Shivers. He’s one of my favorite players that I’ve had the opportunity to coach, âsaid Auburn running backs coach Cadillac Williams. âHe might not be the tallest guy, but I’m telling you he’s not going to back down from a challenge. He’s going to bring it every day. It is very important for this team.
And he’s never been better off in the Plains. Its role on the depth map is assured. New coach Bryan Harsin and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have been open about their desire to bring a more physical downhill element to the Tigers’ offense. It’s the same type of system that Shivers excelled in during his high school career, so they know he’s up to it.
When Shivers sat down with Harsin after being hired to ask questions about his potential role, the coach told him he saw the room where the little running back walked through Alabama safety Xavier McKinney and dropped his helmet in the 2019 Iron Bowl. That’s the exact kind of physicality he enjoys in the post.
âI just think it’s the best offense for me because I have a chance to show what I can really do,â said Shivers.
He did so during Auburn’s A-Day Spring Game last month. Tank Bigsby was the starter and star thanks to a 46-yard touchdown run, but Shivers shone in tandem, turning a team from 12 carries to 55 yards.
It makes McIntyre happy. She always believed that if people stopped spending so much time telling her son what he couldn’t do, they would achieve all he could do. But it’s also a catch-22, she says, because their doubts motivate him to be even better.
Maybe it’s a good thing someone wrote last week that Shivers is “scared of contact” even though it ended up being a typo.
âHe and I discuss the things we read people say about him. The thing is, he calms me down, because he says, ‘Don’t worry about that, Ma Dukes, I have this. I’ll show them. They’ll see, âMcIntyre said. “Whatever he feels at that point, trust me, the person on the ground will feel it more.”
Josh Vitale is the author of Beat Auburn for Advertiser Montgomery. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by e-mail, click here.