Texas prep star Marcus Shavers may not know just where he is going to play his college football, but he's certain of one thing about the University of Arkansas.
"I fall in love with Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas more every time I make it there," Shavers said Sunday night. "I have now been there three times and it's a great community and you get such a great feeling. Arkansas has the best people and the best fan support of any of the schools that I have been around. They love their Razorbacks, they are all about their Razorbacks and nothing else matters."
Shavers, a 6-3, 240-pound junior defensive end prospect from Allen, Texas who is regarded as one of his state's top 15 prospects, took an unofficial visit to Arkansas this past week and took in three workouts while his coach attended a coaching clinic.
"I came up for the Arkansas-Florida game last season and we just stopped by one other time so you can tell how much interest I have in them," Shavers said. "This past weekend was just a wonderful opportunity for some of my teammates and I to come up and see practice and how they go about their business.
"They have very up-tempo practices, they are very enthusiastic and they get a lot done," Shavers continued. "And they do it in such beautiful facilities. It's first-class all the way."
Arkansas is one of six teams that have already offered Shavers a scholarship along with Texas A&M, Kansas State (whose spring game he will be at this weekend), Kansas, SMU and Tulsa.
Shavers, who had six sacks among his 55 tackles last season for a 13-2 squad that reached the state semifinals, is also drawing interest from Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech among others.
"I am really still open to everybody, but Arkansas and Texas A&M are two that have really peaked my interest," Shavers said. "There's just so much to love about both schools. If some others come in, I will size things up, but those two will remain at the top."
Shavers. who best time in the 40-yard dash has been 4.9, said that he is not looking to go to someplace that he will just be another player on the depth chart.
"It's not that I have to come in right away and start - that's not what I am saying," Shavers said. "I just want to go to a place where I can contribute, do something significant to help a team win. At a place like Texas or Oklahoma right now, the depth chart is full. At places like Arkansas and Texas A&M, I know that I can come in and help."
Shavers said one thing Arkansas certainly has going for it is defensive line coach Tracy Rocker.
"He's a straight shooter," Shavers said of Rocker. "All these other coaches are making promises like "you'll start, you'll be a star here, you're the man.'
"But Coach Rocker tells it like it is and I respect that so much," Shavers added. "He's not promising anything other than if I come in and work hard, I'll get a chance to play and then it's about how productive I am. I love that about him. That's what I need, not everything just handed to me and that's what some of these other guys are telling me just so I will sign with them."
Shavers realizes that he's got a wonderful opportunity and stresses he is trying to do everything the right way. He wants to arrive at college at around 255-260 pounds.
"I've been blessed with a great natural size and I thank God for that," Shavers said. "I am not going to do anything to mess up my body. That's why I don't take any supplements or drink any protein shakes. I want to do things the right way and that's build up my body through hard work and weight training, not taking short cuts."
Shavers is currently hitting the weight room each morning at 5:45 a.m., a time that allows him to get in a great workout before class and then still be able to make track practice afterwards to throw the shot.
"I want to get stronger, but I am also doing a lot of things to try and help increase my speed and agility," Shavers said. "I want to be an all-around player who does things the right way, who can be a leader and gets it done on the field and in the classroom."
He has already secured an invitation to 2004 U.S. Army All American All-Star game by winning the Super Athlete award at this year's combine.
"That's cool, but now I want to go out and make sure I have a great season and am worthy of that honor," Shaver said. "You can't every stop working to get better."
Shavers is glad Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt turned down Nebraska to stay at Arkansas.
"I know it's going to be a little tough on them with losing so many seniors and having so many great juniors jump to the NFL, but I have a great amount of faith in those coaches and the Arkansas program," Shavers said. "They might take a few losses this year, but the young guys they have are just going to get better and by the time I might get up there it will be heading back upwards. They are a program on the rise and I think it might be great to be part of building something."
Shavers falling in love with Fayetteville
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