Jason Shivers – In His Own Words

For the last three years, ASU has known only one leading tackler – Jason Shivers. In 2004, the Sun Devils will see a new player assuming that title. Shivers, who opted to enter the NFL draft, offers his thoughts on that whom that player may be, as well as the thought process behind forgoing his senior season, and the reasons for what transpired in this past season.

Shivers' maturity beyond his years separates him from the typical junior football player. Along with raising a 3-year old daughter, he has also been running a successful landscaping buisness. Nevertheless, he told us that life off the field didn't detract from his focus on the field. "I wasn't focused on the NFL during the season," exclaimed Shivers. "I just wanted to play as hard as I can, and let things fall into place like they did. Just like my whole career, I was committed to the Sun Devils. Once I was done with the season, that's when I thought about the NFL."

Following the conclusion of the 2003 season, Shivers did petition the NFL to determine where he stands in the draft. Along with that process, he had those close to him conduct their own research. "They went to several NFL associate websites," he said. "And we were in close contact with (ESPN's) Mel Kiper's website. There a lot of websites out there that can give you information. They also talked to a lot of people, so I feel good about my decision."

Some have raised an eyebrow concerning the fact that Shivers didn't wait for the NFL to come back to him with their findings, to announce his decision. Shivers stated that he had full confidence in the research conducted by his relatives, and along with his unique circumstances forgoing his senior year was the prudent thing to do. "It was also a financial decision," said Shivers. "I have a daughter, and I have other things in my life that I feel that I need to take care of."

"I'm looking to get my buisness developed and maybe even start some new companies," continued Shivers. "Any smart person would do that. I love football, and it's opening up doors for me that will allow me to do other things in business. I'm excited about that."

While the Sun Devils coaching staff was naturally saddened to see their leading tackler leave school early, they showed nothing but unconditional support for the free safety. "They were 100% behind me," claimed Shivers. "They made it easy on me. They let me know they wanted me to come back, but they also respected my feelings. They love me, and I love them."

Another form of support he's receiving is working out under the guidance of football strength coach Joe Kenn. "My workouts are focused towards the (NFL) combine. He has a great workout program. I'm also working with a speed coach every other day. I think I'm getting well prepared for the combine."

Shivers, along with the rest of his now ex-teammates, are coming off a disappointing 2003 season. He offered us his perspective on what transpired a few months ago. "People got hurt and we didn't have control over that," he said. "Maybe we had fatigue with losing our depth. Maybe a lot of people didn't believe that we could be a good team. It's hard to pinpoint one reason. A lot of people were in confusion, thinking ‘what's going on?' A lot of players were playing hard, but it just wasn't happening for us."

"I don't think that players didn't believe in the coaches," he continued. "I think as athletes you have to believe in the system. Coaches did a good job coaching. I had a lot of sessions with the coaches, and I think they did a good job in teaching us what they had to teach." He added that once the young players on the team mature and believe in the coaches, they can turn around the team's fortunes as early as 2004.

The local South Mountain High School graduate has started 34 games in his ASU career, and was the team's lead tackler in all of his three years. He leaves Tempe with a total of 314 stops. When he looks back at the success he enjoyed in the maroon and gold, he's very pragmatic as to the contributing factors. "Hard work, dedication, and I can't leave god out of it. I was a dedicated ASU Sun Devil, and I took that seriously in my life."

If Shivers is to be selected earlier rather than later in the draft, some feel that it will be largely because of his special teams play. "I feel that coach Tom Osborne has prepared me for the NFL," he stated. "He instilled in us that great players play special teams too. Being able to play special teams is gonna help me a lot in the NFL. But I wanna be on the field too playing defense."

The Oregon road win in 2002, the 2003 last second win at North Carolina ("That's a game you dream about.") and the 2003 Holiday Bowl ("Even though we lost, that was a great experience"), are his most memorable moments in his ASU tenure. And how does he want to be remembered by the Sun Devil fans? "An all around player who flies around, smacks people, and makes plays everywhere. Off the field, as a well-rounded, kind person, and a hard worker. Anybody that came in contact with me would say the same."

Whether it is as a person or a player, Jason Shivers is leaving mighty big shoes to fill in. He predicted that ASU's new 2004 leading tackler would be: "Matt Fawley, and Riccardo Stewart second (smile)." The predictions as to where he will be drafted in April may vary. However, regardless which round he will be selected in, the mere fact that he will play on Sundays will fulfill a long awaited dream. Shivers success on and off the field, should ultimately prove a prelude to a prosperous pro career.

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