This season, Sam Shields had a successful freshman campaign despite the struggles of the offense, hauling in 33 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think I did well," Shields said of his freshman year with the ‘Canes. "I would never rate myself low. I think I did okay for a freshman. Next year, I think I'll do better. I'm going to come in during the off time to work harder."
Shields came into fall practice and immediately made an impact, climbing up the depth chart and playing with the first team on several occasions. On Labor Day vs. archrival Florida State, Shields made his college football debut.
He continued to impress the coaches, and when senior Darnell Jenkins went out with an injury, he cemented his place into the starting lineup for the rest of the season. In order to get that kind of playing time as a freshman, Shields had to make a quick transition from high school to college.
"Being a freshman and coming in and having to know everything was very tough. The transition was hard because you had to know a lot more stuff. Recognizing the defense and what coverage they are in, knowing the hot routes, and everything like that," Shields said of the difficulties of the college game.
"When Darnell came out I really had to step up and get to know everything, know my assignments, and stay in the film room a lot. All that being said, I think my freshman year was a pretty good year."
Most 18-year olds would be satisfied with starting at wide receiver for a premier program, but not Sam Shields. Sam possesses a clear desire to improve on this season. To do that, Shields believes he must improve both the physical and mental aspects of his game.
"The first thing I need to do is get stronger. I have to learn how to run correct and sharper routes," he said of his plan to improve this off-season.
It seems that one of the big questions this upcoming spring will be which quarterback ends up throwing passes to the first teamers such as Sam. Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright will compete for the starting job. As a wide receiver, Shields has a special relationship with the quarterbacks, but is confident enough in himself to believe it doesn't matter who will be taking snaps next season.
"I guess there's a small difference, but I don't really look at it that way," Shields said of the difference between the two quarterbacks. Whoever's playing has to execute and do their thing."
"I know there's going to be a lot of competition, a very big competition next year. Seeing Kirby come in and do a good job is going to motivate Kyle to come in and work harder, and it's going to motivate Kirby too. Kyle's going to come in and try to get his position back. It's going to be a good competition."
Shields is also mindful that there will possibly be several new faces on campus next season, some of which will be competing with him at wide receiver. He welcomed the competition and feels that he can use what he learned in his first year to help the new faces.
"It's going to be like this year. There was a lot of competition this year. Last year, me and the rest of the freshmen told ourselves that we were going to come in here and start. All the freshmen next year are going to do the same thing. We have to still keep the focus that we need to keep our spot because there's going to be a lot of competition. We're going to help them out. Anything they need, we're going to try to help them with. We're going to try to get them in there to play."
Shields: "I think I did okay for a freshman"
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