The Parade All-American and consensus 2003 Texas 3A Offensive Player of the Year tore the ACL in his right knee during a non-contact drill last August. Within a week, Shipley vowed that he would be back in time for spring football despite a more cautious prognosis from team doctors. So far, Shipley has participated full-speed but has been held out of contact drills as a precaution.
"It's the amazing thing," head coach Mack Brown said of his rapid recovery. "I've never seen anything like it."
Right now, the primary thing that's missing is his natural tendency to fake a DB out of his jock.
"Really, it's just trying to make somebody miss," Shipley told Inside Texas. "That's the only thing that's all that different. As soon as I get that brace off, I'll be fine."
The brace comes off following the April 2 Orange-White Game, Shipley predicts.
"I think I can do without it now but they want me to be careful with it and have me take my time with it," he said. "The plan is, as soon is spring is over, to let me loose. Of course, I feel like I could (scrimmage) but I have to do whatever the trainers tell me to do. They watch me. They can gauge what I can do and what I can't do, more than I can -- because I'm going to tell them I can do everything."
The WR spot was wide open last season (and frankly, still is) for raw talent to emerge as an impact playmaker. One UT coach said Shipley was better than expected and on the fast track to nailing down a starting assignment as a true freshman. But Shipley, as diplomatic a coach's son as one could ever meet, does not care to speculate about what his presence might have meant to last year's 11-1 squad.
"Obviously, they were a great team," Shipley said. "They won the Rose Bowl and you can't ask for too much more than that. I guess, if anything, I could have been a little bit of a deep threat. That's what I would have envisioned myself doing."
Many Orangebloods envisioned Shipley as picking up where he left off from his prep star days in Burnet. His 264 career catches for 5,424 yards not only is a state record but ranks No. 2 all-time nationally. So does his 73 career TDs.
Nearly every athlete who suffers a torn ACL speaks not only of the physical but also the emotional rehabilitation of learning to trust that the knee would hold up under fire. For Shipley, regaining that level of trust remains a work in progress.
"A lot of people tell me that I look like I'm getting close but, just for me, I don't feel like I'm back yet completely. I'm just trying to do as much as I can and, hopefully, that will come soon when I'm able to say that I'm ready to go. It hasn't happened yet. I trust it enough to do what I'm doing on it. It's just the game situation is a little bit different. Like I said, when it's just one-on-one and I'm trying to make somebody miss, I just can't do what I normally can do. Other than that, everything's fine."
Thursday post-practice comments from Mack Brown: "We scrimmaged again for quiet a while, and have more this spring than last spring. The guys are really responding to that."
"Ramonce Taylor looked really good and had a great practice, so he should be able to scrimmage on Saturday morning."
"We have seen the attitude in the first three days (since coming back) that we had in the first five. No one has taken a lazy step."
"We are blocking better downfield at wide receiver, the running backs need to block blitz better, so we had a lot of blitz work today. We are getting more pass rush out of our front four than we have since weve been here. But we need to tackle better in the open field. We are working really hard two-deep because we are really trying to get that second bunch where they are ready to go." Todd Greenbaum