The two players have notorious been absent from the starting lineup and weekly depth chart, which prompted questions involving their character.
Issues arose early in the season. Shields was suspended for ‘unspecified team violations' according to the Shannon for the team's opening game versus Marshall. He would also be deactivated from the Duke game as rumors circulated of poor practice efforts. He would also be suspended for the first half of the North Carolina State game.
Hill, the team's primary kick returner, too, was suspended from the team's game versus the Blue Devils. In recent weeks he had received a significant slash in playing time at his primary position, wide receiver.
However, Shannon now believes that his players are "coming around" and were rewarded as such this weekend with increased playing time.
The two were credited for 11 catches for 114 yards combined during the game.
Shannon takes his role as a head coach a step further, believing that it is his responsibility to be a parental figure to his players. It is a position he values as highly as he does
"My job is to also be a parent," Shannon said. "If you have a kid, you don't just quit on your kids. You just keep hitting them on their hand on their butt and tell them, ‘no, do it the right way,' and sooner or later they'll get it."
For Shields and Hill, it has been a long process.
"You need to show them if they aren't doing the right thing there are consequences and Sam and Ryan are getting that," Shannon continued. "Time was getting taken away, and now they understand."
Shannon stresses that the parents of players like Shields and Hill give him their full support to, as Shannon paraphrased, "turn their kids into men." Turning his players into responsible men has been a staple of his coaching style since his early days as a linebacker coach. He realizes that football isn't in each and every one of his player's future, so preparing them for life after football is paramount.
"Just like anything, you have to prepare most of these guys for life after football," Shannon said. "If they have the mindset 'I can do what I want, when I want,' they'll never be successful."