Count Arkansas linebacker signee Myke Tavarres as a full-fledged new member of the Randy Shannon fan club.
Shannon, the Razorbacks' new linebacker coach, stopped by Tavarres' home in Oregon on Friday night and left quite the impression.
"He is a really great guy, real easy to talk to and someone who has a great story of overcoming adversity and thriving despite of it," Tavarres said. "He has some great life lessons to get across and I couldn't be more excited to be playing for him."
Shannon grew up in Miami where his father was murdered when he was 3. His older twin brothers became addicted to crack when he was 10 and later died of AIDs, as did Shannon's sister. He became a father at 16.
He went on to become a great player, a top assistant coach and defensive coordinator - all at Miami - while being part of three national championship teams.
Shannon, who was drafted by Dallas in 1989 and played two seasons as an outside linebacker, eventually became head coach of the Hurricane from 2007-2010 with a 28-22 record.
"His story is just so amazing," Tavarres said. "How can you not have the utmost respect for someone who has overcome all of that and know does his best to help others through hard times. I can't say enough about my respect for him."
Tavarres (6-2, 223), who will report to Arkansas on Jan. 10, led Weed (CA) College of the Siskiyous with 85 tackles in 10 games this season while also having 2.5 sacks and taking both of his interceptions back for touchdowns.
He and former North Little Rock star Martrell Spaight and Coffeyville (KA) Community College All-American linebacker (6-0, 220) were two of five signees that the Razorbacks landed in December.
They will join A.J. Turner (6-2, 216) and Otha Peters (6-1, 228) – two true freshmen who ended the year as the starters – along with commits Brooks Ellis (6-3, 215), Marcus Robinson (6-4, 210) and possibly another junior college signee in Hutchinson (KA) CC Antonio Longino (6-3, 225) in competing for playing time at linebacker.
There's also holdovers Jarrett Lake (6-3, 233), Braylon Mitchell (6-3, 232), Daunte Carr (6-3, 224) and Robert Atiga (6-3, 240) to battle for playing time.
"One of the best things I heard from Coach Shannon is that he wants to put the best three players on the field at all times," Tavarres said. "If he needs run stoppers on a certain down, the best three that can do that will be out there.
"If he needs the best three for passing situations the best three will be out there," Tavarres added. "If you are one of the three that is the best at both, then you'll be out there for both.
"That's a great thing for all of us to hear because it says that he is going into things with an open mind and it is about production," Tavarres continued. "I think we are going to have a lot of guys making a lot of plays and it is going to be a strength of our defense this season."
Tavarres will get a jump on his younger competitors by being able to go through spring break and does think that the junior college experience he and Spaight have is a big positive.
"That's definitely going to be an edge for us because there is an adjustment in terms of knowledge and experience and we have put in time on the college level," Tavarres said. "The biggest thing is how you learn that in high school, it was a game, but in college playing football truly is a job."
He is looking forward to "working" for Shannon.
"I don't know how anybody could meet him and not want to run through a wall for him," Tavarres said. "He just seems like a special guy that you want to give you all for every day."
Shannon's Visit Wows Tavarres
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