"It's obviously helped me out a lot," Shane Mularkey said. "He's really intelligent. He helps me out with the Xs and Os, and stuff like that. I've been around it my whole life. I get to see guys that do it for a living – the best of the best.
"But at the same time, he doesn't overload me with it. I'm not living football 24-7."
One of the negatives of being an NFL coach's son is the constant moving.
As a freshman, Mularkey attended Orchard Park (N.Y.) High School, where he played on the junior varsity squad. Following the season, he discovered that his father's job change meant a move to South Florida.
Mularkey enrolled at Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where he became a reserve wide receiver and safety for the Florida powerhouse.
"I was on varsity, so I didn't play that much," Mularkey said. "I just watched. It's a pretty talented team down there – [they go to] states pretty much every year. So it's kind of like wait your turn."
Mularkey's turn came during the spring prior to his junior season – or so he thought. He continued to see reps at receiver, but began to excel on defense and was eventually moved into a starting linebacker slot.
"I was really excited to play, but during the spring game I got hurt and was out for the season," Mularkey said.
"I was coming out of a route and just got punched when [my shoulder] was relaxed and it came right out. They said it was a freak accident – it doesn't usually happen like that."
Mularkey suffered a torn labrum. He could have played his junior year with the injury and saved the surgery for after the season, but instead decided to get the procedure over with.
"I wanted to be back for my senior season healthy, so that's why I decided to get the surgery out of the way," Mularkey said. "… It's one of those things where you're going to have to get it repaired regardless. I didn't want [my shoulder] coming out every game. It was annoying and real painful."
In July '07, Mularkey had the surgery. It took six months to regain full movement and a year to be 100-percent recovered.
"I'm good [now] -- it feels great," Mularkey said.
During his recovery, Mularkey attended all team functions and games as St. Thomas Aquinas went 14-1 and claimed Florida's Class 5A championship. He fully expected to help defend the title in 2008.
When the Miami Dolphins terminated head coach Cam Cameron, Mularkey and his father talked about the future.
"He kind of put it on my shoulders, whatever I wanted to do," Mularkey said. "And I said I didn't have a problem moving if he wanted to. I wasn't too worried about it – I've been around the moving thing before so it wasn't too big of a concern."
Thus, his father accepted the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator job, while the younger Mularkey enrolled at Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian School.
The constant moving, coupled with no junior highlight tape, hurt Mularkey's recruiting stock.
"It's frustrating because I know what I can do, I know that I can play, and I see these other guys getting offers left and right after their junior year," said Mularkey, who now checks in at 6-2 and 210 pounds.
GAC's reputation as a regular producer of Division I-A talent would provide Mularkey an opportunity to overcome that obstacle.
(Check back tomorrow for Part II …)