Friday, September 9, 2011
Another Shipley making noise for Texas
By David Ubben
AUSTIN, Texas -- Jaxon Shipley has been around Texas' campus for quite awhile.
So has coach Mack Brown.
Of course, when Shipley first got there, he was rolling down the hills surrounding the practice field. He later graduated to sliding down the hill on cardboard.
Give Shipley a break, though. That was back when big brother Jordan Shipley was practicing and he was "watching."
Now, it's Jaxon Shipley's turn, and he's making noise early in his career.
Texas freshman Jaxon Shipley caught two passes for 54 yards, including this TD in Week 1.
"He’s come in mature beyond his years and he hasn’t been overwhelmed by whatever, the fanfare, the moment, 100,000 people in the stands, he just hasn’t been overwhelmed," said senior safety Blake Gideon.
The result? Shipley became the first true freshman receiver to catch a touchdown pass in a season opener in Texas history. He caught a pass from John Harris on a trick play for his 36-yard touchdown and added another 18-yard catch to finish with 54 yards.
Shipley won the team's offensive MVP award for the game, and Brown had a tough time remembering the last freshman to do so in his first game.
"During 7-on-7 stuff this summer he was hopping in there with the first group very quickly and did a good job, so you know, I knew from the start he was going to be a good player," said junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert. "He really shined the other night."
Gilbert loved what he saw during the summer, but he didn't get to see much of Shipley during the spring. Despite graduating high school early, he decided to spend the spring semester working with the player that he may never stop being compared to: his brother, Jordan Shipley.
Brown called the decision "smart." Shipley's academics were in order and he didn't need to enroll at Texas early. He had a sore knee, too. Jordan Shipley was locked out by the NFL and planned to get married in the spring.
"This gave him a chance to spend more time with his brother than he’ll probably ever get again," Brown said. "He said he could spend all spring working on their route running together, so it made sense to me."
The comparisons are obvious, and far from forced.
Both can "run forever" Brown said, noting that Shipley stood out in Sunday's conditioning workout after the win over Rice. Brown credits having a father as a coach, and, of course, the work with his brother.
"The way they run looks similar and they both run very good routes," Gilbert said. "Jordan is doing it at the highest level right now ... and I’m sure he taught his little brother some of that stuff."
Jaxon Shipley hasn't encountered any of the injuries that kept Jordan on campus for six seasons, but his potential? Undeniable.
"He’s a great young cat," said linebacker Keenan Robinson. "He’s a guy that’s shown me a lot in camp. He hardly ever drops the ball in practice. He’s a guy that’s following in the right footsteps. He could be as good or better than his brother was. He’s definitely that. He definitely has a chance to put up big numbers, and I expect him to possibly be a freshman All-American this season."
That's a long way from sliding down a grass hill during Longhorns' practices.