Standout Safety Not Satisfied With Accomplishments

If you were to pick a player on ASU's team, that needs to improve his game, junior safety Jason Shivers would be last on that list. The local South Mountain high school product has led the team in tackles in his first two seasons, and has been an impact player on defense ever since his true freshman year. Nevertheless, Shivers told DevilsDigest that he's constantly his hardest critic, which he hopes can take him to a higher level of play.

"I like to nit pick on myself (smile)." Says Shivers, "I want to be an exciting player, and the only way to do that is to nit pick on myself. One of my biggest goals is to lead the team again in tackling. But I want to get a double-double. I want to lead the team in tackles and interceptions. Hopefully, the way my spring is going everything will go my way."

So far in his career, things have gone his way to say the least. In 2001, the safety became the first true freshman in ASU's history to lead the team in tackles. His 89 stops were enough to get him named to the Sporting News first team Freshman All-American team. When we asked him what specific aspects of his game he wanted to improve this spring session he replied: "I wanted to be a better cover guy in the slot. I also am trying to improve on my tackling. I think I've done a good job with those two things, and I improved on a lot of other stuff that I sought out to improve."

The solid showing in spring practice is a natural continuation to a successful 2002 campaign, where the junior recorded 121 tackles, three forced fumbles, and nine pass breakups. With that in mind, is he disappointed spring practice was coming to an end on Saturday or is he content to take a break until the fall? "I'm kinda in between, I'm having a great spring and improving so much right now. I guess I'm wishing I could football all year long…just kidding! (smile)"

Jason Shivers heads a safety unit that is arguably the deepest and the most experienced on the team. "Talent isn't even an issue with our safeties." He says, "We got a lot of experience and that's only gonna help us in filling the gaps and being aggressive. It helps a lot to have players that have played a lot and know what they're doing." In the junior's mind, it's not only talent and experience that will make this group better in 2003, but also an additional intangible that has made this spring session a more productive one. "It's so different. Even though we had some guys step up last year, I think the leadership on the defense is better. Me and Riccardo (Stewart) are talking a lot to the younger guys, instead of just being quiet and doing our thing. We were here when the defense was first built, and we pretty much built this defense to what it is now. We're playing great, but we just have to keep building and make this defense the best one in the Pac-10."

With the all accolades Shivers has received there's one honor that is near and dear to his heart. "I love being the hometown boy. It feels good to get so much respect around town. It's great to come here and change the program around, and make it an elite program like it should be. It's just a good feeling." And when the good times keep on rolling with Jason Shivers that usually translates into a successful Sun Devil season.

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