NR: 18 SR: 21 Rating: ****
An Inside Texas conversation with Burnet head coach Bob Shipley on Jordan Shipley:
IT: What are Jordan's strengths as a football player?
Bob Shipley: He understands the game so incredibly well for a high school senior. I guess being raised a coach's kid, he's been with me and by my side so long through this whole deal that he just does things right out there and he's mature beyond his years on the field. And secondly, the God-given ability that God has given him to be a big playmaker. He makes plays with good vision, good speed, good hands, and good open field running. I think all those things combine to make him an effective player. When he gets the ball, you know he's going to try to score on every play. Every time he touches the ball, he's going to try to score. I'm sure there's some people that would like to do that, but he scored over 100 touchdowns in his high school career, so he's able to do that pretty successfully.
IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Jordan?
Bob Shipley: Typically, coach's kids come in having a better grasp of the game and catch on to the new schemes quicker because they understand it a little bit more. Plus his ability to make plays is probably the reason that he'll probably wind up on offense rather than defense. From what they've told me, with the skill level that he has with the ball in his hands, he'll be an offensive player. His route-running is something that Coach Drake has alluded to as being pretty advanced for a guy his age and of course that's gonna help him with playing time and playing early, the fact that he's probably a little more polished than a lot of kids. And simply coming from a background with a spread type team. We throw the ball a lot and he's seen about every kind of coverage you can see as a high school kid.
IT: He played both ways for you guys...
Bob Shipley: He was first-team all-state as a junior on both offense and defense. He was the only player in the state in any classification, I believe, to be both first-team offense and defense in both the AP and the sports writers' poll. This year, people didn't throw to his side as much and he didn't see as much action as he'd seen the previous couple of years. He wound up being second-team all-state this year on defense. The only time he came off the field was when we had our regular punt team on the field. Other than that, a lot of times we had a punting team out there which was basically our offense and he wound up kicking for us, kicking extra points -- he kicked a field goal in the state championship game. He has been all-state from his time at Rotan and here as a kicker, as a kick returner, as a defensive back, and as a receiver.
IT: Does Jordan prefer playing on one side of the ball over the other?
Bob Shipley: He loves to play defense. He really loves to play defense. It's a rush for him and a challenge. He loves to have the ball in his hands, too, and I think he likes offense a little more, but defense is not far behind. He really loves playing defense, too, and never griped or complained about it. Because of his ability to catch the ball and run in the open field -- some guys can catch, some guys can run fast, and then some guys can run good routes, and some guys can run once they have the ball in their hands, but to have all those things together is something that he realizes he needs to be on the offensive side of the ball.
IT: What are the areas of his game that Jordan needs to improve upon to be successful at the next level?
Bob Shipley: Biggest thing he needs to work on and is working on is trying to get bigger, stronger. He's pretty strong for a 180-pound kid but he's going to see press coverage. He saw a lot of press coverage in high school but not from Division I defensive backs, so he's going to have to get stronger and physical to the point that he can get off the line of scrimmage vs. press coverage. I think that's the No. 1 thing that he needs to do and by doing that he'll hopefully continue to get bigger and faster. That's going to be the biggest adjustment for him at the next level.
IT: What are Jordan's best routes?
Bob Shipley: Any double move routes he runs really well, like a post-corner, the hook-and-go. Any kind of route that's going to require a double move. He's so quick and has such outstanding acceleration that he can accelerate out of the first move into the second move and really separate himself from a defensive back. I'd say that's one of his greatest assets as a route runner along with he runs the fade really well because he adjusts so well to the ball in the air. He can turn on the jets and lay out and pick one up that's overthrown or he can tell pretty far in advance that the ball is going to be thrown short so he can slow down and still keep the defender behind him and be between the ball and the defender. So his ability to adjust to the ball in the air and time his jumps is another good asset as he has as a receiver.
IT: Do you see him being able to step in and play as a true freshman?
Bob Shipley: Obviously that's something the Texas coaches will have to decide. I think the situation with them losing three starters, they're going to have to have some young kids play and I don't think there's anybody that doubts that. I think he'll have as a good a shot as anybody at playing early. I don't know if that's necessarily best for a kid to come in out of high school and play as a freshman but his desire is to do whatever he can do to help the team whenever he can do it and if it's as a true freshman that's what he's going to do, and he ain't going to look back. But I think probably this is a good time for young receivers coming in to Texas that want to get some early playing time because of the guys that they lost. They've still got some good kids there and hopefully that rotation system is going to require five or six kids to get on the field.
IT: What did Jordan mean to your football program?
Bob Shipley: He along with Stephen McGee, who were two of the best kids in the state this year at their respective positions, really raised the level of play, of expectation, of practice, competing. Those two guys were just great, intense competitors and really worked hard. A lot of times at a smaller school like this you'll have great athletes but they don't have the work ethic because they've never had to work. Jordan and Stephen were mature enough to see that they had the chance to help this team win a state championship and they also had the ability through their hard work to play at another level, so that's probably the biggest thing Jordan did for our team. Obviously, you can look at his stats and see he did some incredible things for us on the field, but overall, the biggest thing that he added for us is confidence and I think he raised the level of play around him. He's just the kind of guy, when he gets the ball, everybody just stands up and holds their breathe because he can score so quickly from so many different scenarios that it really was an awful lot of fun to be a part of.
IT: Will he be an inside or outside receiver at the next level?
Bob Shipley: Coach Drake has talked about him playing inside and especially early I think that's wise for two reasons. One reason is it would give him some time to put on some bulk to be able to handle the press coverage he would see outside. As an inside receiver, he'll be off the line of scrimmage, he'll be moving around and motioning and stuff and so he'll be able to avoid contact from the defender better, plus with his speed and open field running they want to get him the ball as quick as they can and have him do what he does best.
IT: Is Jordan a leader, and if so, how does he lead?
Bob Shipley: He's not really a vocal leader, although he is when he has to be. I noticed in big games and crucial situations him becoming vocal out there and encouraging the guys, but he's not a rah-rah, extroverted type of guy. He's taken everything in stride. He doesn't put on a show out there with the kids trying to be the type of leader he's not. He's always led by example and he's vocal when he needs to be as a leader. Just always had a calm, cool head. He was just always the same whether we were playing Ingram or Gainesville in the state championship game, he was always the same. And that's good. You try to tell the kids, don't ever get too high, don't ever get too low. Don't let your emotions control the way you play too much because if you play on emotion, you're going to come down one day. You can't play at that level all the time.
NEXT UP: Bobby Tatum