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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Shannon's waiting game pays off

By Sheldon Shealer
ESPNRISE.com

As a special signing day ceremony took place at Valencia (Calif.) High School last month, Eric Shannon was 2,500 miles away, visiting a college in Raleigh, N.C.

Eric Shannon
Eric Shannon is a keeper for the L.A. Galaxy club team, but saw time at keeper and forward for Valencia this past season.
Bucking a trend of early verbal commitments and first-possible-day signings in the soccer world, Shannon wanted to take his time. In fact, he was almost willing to attend a community college to buy more time.

"This is the place where I'll spend the next four years so I wanted to make sure I was making the best choice," said Shannon, a keeper for the Los Angeles Galaxy Academy club team.

Tuesday night, nearly seven weeks after the start of NCAA men's and women's soccer period, Shannon selected the University of San Diego over three other Division I programs.

Shannon's story is not that of a player awaiting an offer. In fact, he had four Division I offers -- including one full ride. Instead, it was about finding the right academic and athletic fit, and Shannon was not going to settle for less.

Therefore, while players around him were gobbling up offers, Shannon was willing to undergo a different type of recruiting pressure -- asking for more time.

Shannon started for the LAFC U18 Academy club team last year and was selected to the SoCal Division Starting XI for the inaugural Development Academy season. This year, the 6-foot, 170-pound keeper joined the L.A. Galaxy Academy squad for which he shares time in goal with two other NCAA Division I-bound keepers.

With that sort of pedigree, Shannon was thrust into the recruiting process, taking visits and entertaining offers.

"Everyone was signing and I felt I was behind," he said. "But I kept saying [to college coaches] I need more time. They said, 'OK,' but they were going to start looking at other players. I sort of felt pressured into making a decision -- not from the coaches directly, but from me. I was almost going to go to a community college as a regular student [not as a student-athlete] so I could buy time while not using up my eligibility."

Then San Diego entered the picture two months ago.

"I went on a visit last weekend and I fell in love with everything," said Shannon, who plans on studying business.

"He came home on Sunday and was thrilled with everything about the school," his father, Bill Shannon, said. "After weighing all of the pros and cons on Sunday and Monday, he decided [Tuesday] night that USD was the place for him."

Although Shannon is thrilled with his decision and how it played out, there is one regret.

"All the people who signed [at Valencia] are athletes I know, but I was off on an official visit," he said. "I saw the pictures. I felt I got left out since I didn't get the chance to sign with them."

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com.