Shipley: 'Heart And Focus Is With The Team'

Two days after tearing his right ACL during Thursday morning's practice, standout freshman FL <B>Jordan Shipley </B>spoke with reporters for the first time about his season-ending injury.

UT trainers did not confirm the ACL tear until late Friday. Following Saturday's scrimmage at DKR, Shipley said imaging tests revealed a "clean tear" and "some bone bruises" but there was no additional ligament damage. However, Shipley said he knew what the situation meant the moment it happened.

"The ball was just over my head and I was turning around to catch it, my knee just buckled outside on me," Shipley said. "As soon as that happened, I pretty much knew."

The injury came on the last play of practice on a pass from QB Vince Young.

"A ball was thrown behind him and he hurt himself because he was fighting hard to catch it after he tipped it," head coach Mack Brown said. "His knee stuck in the ground as he turned to grab it."

Surgery will be scheduled within the next week-to-10-days, Shipley said, and will be scheduled around his classes. The fall semester begins for UT students on August 25.

He had both the option of waiting to enroll in January as well as returning home to Burnet for rehabilitation. Not a chance! Shipley is a Longhorn and wants to be in Austin for the duration.

"It's really hard to watch if you're not being able to play but my total heart and my focus is with the team," Shipley said. "I'm going to stay, go through school and try to do what I can to help the team and try to be an inspiration."

Speaking of inspiration, I asked Shipley if teammates such as TE Bo Scaife (who returned from season-ending knee injuries in 2000 and 2002) had offered words of counsel.

"He told me to rehab it the way I'm supposed to and do everything that they'll possibly let you do," Shipley said. "Anything they let me do is what I'm going to do. Dad always said, 'It's a lot easier to say 'Who!' than 'Giddiup!'"

He has also been heartened by teammates assuring him that he could return "even better than you were before." Shipley said the early prognosis is that there is a chance he can be back by the beginning of spring drills.

"I will be back for the whole of spring because I'm going to make sure I get myself ready," he said, before reaffirming his vow, "I will be here for the whole spring."

An injury of this severity represents uncharted territory for the Parade All-American. The three-year starter who holds the state high school record for receptions (264), receiving yards (5,424) and TD grabs (73) has never missed a game due to injury.

"I can't really play through this one," Shipley said. "This is my first major injury."

Brown said Shipley is "the most positive human being I've ever been around."

"That (Thursday) afternoon, when we didn't know how badly he was hurt, the first thing he said was, 'Well, coach, if I am hurt bad, I'll be on these crutches and I'll be ready for spring,'" Brown said.

Shipley was one of five WR that Texas signed last February and, along with WR Nathan Jones, had begun to emerge from among the freshman pack.

"It was real competitive out there and I felt I was holding my own," he said. "But that's the way it went. There's nothing I can do it about it. The main thing is the team and they're looking great. I'm still really excited about the season."

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