Sam Shields Poised to Break Out

With a new coaching staff in place, nothing is guaranteed for the Hurricane pass catchers. An influx of new talent and returning players looking to make a statement should make standing out from the logjam at the wide receiver position a difficult task. However, don't be surprised if 2007 is the coming out party for sophomore wide receiver, Sam Shields.

Last season was one for adjustment for the former Booker High School standout. The transition from high school to college ball was a huge jump for the Sarasota, Florida native. The toughest challenge may be the evolution from rookie freshman to veteran sophomore and taking a leadership role on offense.

"You just have to do your thing," Shields said. "You're not a freshman anymore; you're pretty much a veteran. You have to know everything: the alignments, the routes, and you also have to teach the freshmen what to do, just like when I was a freshman and they taught me"

The new coaching staff has put an emphasis on hard work and being accountable. "We have a new coach. He is making us disciplined, making us do our part, and he's staying on each and every one of us. It's not a big deal. We're still working."

However, the road is not easy. The coaching staff has expected nothing less than perfection from each player.

"It got a little tough on us, but we had to work through it. It's still fast and everything had to be 100 percent, or even more."

"Well you know, Coach is working us hard in those ball drills. It's not just me, everyone is working hard."

Despite being one of the leading returning pass catchers, Shields knows his spot isn't handed to him. With an infusion of young talent via the latest recruits, nothing is a guarantee. Every accolade, every position must be earned on the field.

"Right now I'm working with the first team," Shields said. "But, that could change any time if I don't keep working hard."

"The guys on the second team are going to keep working hard too, so it's not a guaranteed job. Everyone is going to keep working"

Within the new talent is a group of talented, local freshmen and a Junior College transfer that add not only instant offensive production, but long term development, which could revitalize a once depleted Hurricane pass catching corps.

"We brought in some good receivers. Kayne (Farquharson), (Daniel) Adderley, (Leonard) Hankerson, (and Jermaine) McKenzie," Shields said. "Everyone is working hard doing their part and competing."

Along with the new group of receivers, the Hurricanes return seniors Lance Leggett, Darnell Jenkins, juniors Khalil Jones, sophomore Ryan Hill, and redshirt freshman George Robinson, amongst others. A major focus of the offense to take the next step is the development of quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman, both of whom are vying to start at quarterback for the 2007.

Shields notes how important the quarterback is to this team's success and how important it is to keep one another motivated.

"You have to know your quarterbacks. Both of them are competing hard. Whoever gets the job is going to work hard to keep it and whoever is behind him will congratulate him."

For Shields, the off-season has given him time to bulk up to a better game-day shape.

"Right now I'm at 175. I came in at 167. From the fall to the spring, my strength numbers went up a little bit. If it wasn't going up, I'd be able to tell I wasn't working hard, but it went up."

Shields improvement is only one cog in the 2007 Miami Hurricanes' machine. He notes, however that "everyone is working" for his teammates on offense and defense.

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