Who Are these Guys? Nathan Shanks

Every year at this time, a few extra names seem to appear on the <b>Northwestern</b> Football Roster.<br><br> They're the players who have decided to try playing football at NU.Here's the lowdown on a running back from central Illinois - Taylorville's Nathan Shanks...

Our heading for this series comes from my reaction when I looked at the list of Walk-on Players...
because the Preferred Walk-on list is closely held by the our Coaches until the kids actually declare that they're coming to Northwestern.
Anyway, here we go - Part 1 - Nathan Shanks:
Everyone you talk to about Taylorville High School's Nathan Shanks says "great kid, smart, a role model."

He holds all of the rushing records at Taylorville, where he originally played 4 sports - Football, Basketball, Baseball and Track. We don't have a :40 time, but he ran the 100 yard dash in 12.13, Put the Shot, and was on various relay teams that helped Taylorville HS to a 31-4 track record in 2002. He was also the MVP of the Baseball team the last 2 years. He gave up Basketball his junior year to concentrate on Football and Baseball.

When I asked Taylorville Football Coach Scott Alberson about why Shanks wasn't recruited by more schools, he described him as a straight ahead runner, not a slasher, which is what most colleges seem to want now. Forget Shank's two consecutive 1000+ yard rushing seasons [1,235 yds on 168 carries for 7.4 ypc and 74points in 2001, 1,165 yds on 201 carries for 5.8 ypc and 13 TDs in 2002.] He also caught 18 passes for 286 yds and 2 TDs. Needless to say he holds all of the Taylorville HS rushing records to date.

He also plays some defense - he had 3 interceptions at linebacker and returned one of them for a touchdown. As a defender, he'd be used to the swarming style NU is developing, Taylorville runs in 5 linebackers at times.

Coach Alberson told me that Shanks visited Northwestern his Junior year and fell in love with the school and the campus.  It may have colored his discussions with other colleges. He received little attention from the recruiting experts after his Junior year. He was on the "Juniors to Watch" list kept by one Illinois High School site, but I know theInsiders.com didn't have any information on Shanks. However, the NU recruiters apparently had him on their radar as a potential Walk-on.

Coach Scott Alberson is very realistic, and explained to me that he makes sure his players know how hard it is to get recruited or to play in Division I. He thinks Shanks has a chance to eventually play at NU because he is so very coachable, is a smart player, and has the speed to eventually find a spot to play on the Wildcat team.  He doesn't expect him to show up and be a star, but he could work his way up.  At Taylorville HS, Coach Alberson has produced several other Div I prospects, including a lineman who is currently playing for Dartmouth.

Nathan Shanks did have some offers from some Illinois colleges late in the recruiting season, but by then he had his heart set on Northwestern University.  He plans to walk on this Summer at Camp Kenosha as a running back, a position where NU is not short on talent, but lacking depth.

My take?
Maybe NU has found a Mike Alstott type straight ahead rusher here. If he is as fast as some observers say, he could be a good successor to a long list of NU Backs but because of his speed, he could also move over to Linebacker - he's 6-1 210 coming out of HS - tall for a running back these days, but a maybe another nice big guy over on D.

In any respect, even as a Walk-on, Nathan Shanks seems to fit the Randy Walker/NU mold of smart, fast players.
[Purple Reign would like to thank Ed Nelson of tthe Taylorville Breeze Courier - for all of the statistics and background info for this story]

* Story has appeared on Purple Reign
Posn
Name
Ht
Wt
Hometown
High School
PK
Josh Branson
5-10
170
Charlotte NC
Charlotte Country Day
FB
Adam Crum
6-3
245
Anchor Point, AK
Homer HS
WR
Andrew Davis
5-8
170
Hartford, CT
Bulkeley HS
OL
Ben Peterson
6-7
295
Plymouth, MN
Robbinsdale Armstrong
RB
Nathan Shanks*
6-1
210
Taylorville, IL
Taylorville HS
RB
Cameron Tajvar
6-1
200
Omaha, NE
Millard North
TE
Nick Tosi
6-5
255
Toledo, OH
St. John's Jesuit
OL
Brock Wilbur
6-6
250
Salina, KS
Salina South

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