D.J. Shoemate: The Ultimate Student Athlete

Stanley Havili really hasn't had a backup fullback who was as heralded an athlete coming out of high school as DJ Shoemate, SCPlaybook caught up with Shoemate, who had an impressive spring camp, for a nice Q & A:

SS: How did you feel about your performance this spring camp?

SHOEMATE: "I thought it was a great performance. It was a great spring and I felt very comfortable out there. I was very confident, which allowed me to play more freedom than I did in the fall. I've had a better opportunity to establish a relationship with the coaches as well as have a better understanding of what type of player they want me to be, and I have a better understanding of what their expectations are of me. I was able to show what I have to offer as a player, proving not only myself, but my teammates that I line to play after play. I want to make a name for myself as a non-selfish player and if they need me to block, I'll block, if they need me to run a route or run up the middle, I'll do whatever it takes so that I can contribute to this team.

SS: Were there any noticeable differences with the coaches between the 2008 fall camp and this spring camp?

SHOEMATE: With new coaches and coaching staff, it really didn't affect anything negatively. They definitely have simplified the terminology it was just a very good move.

SS: Has the coaching staff discussed with you what they feel you role at the fullback position with be this season?

SHOEMATE: To be honest, I don't know what USC has planned for me, but my biggest thing is to just stay ready. I want to be ready to have my name called upon and be ready to give my best effort every time I have an opportunity to.

SS: Stanley Havili really appears to have a great personality and willing to really help his fellow teammates in any way he can. How much influence has Stanley had on you?

SHOEMATE: Stanley is a great guy. He's a very laid back person and very easy to talk to. Whenever I have a question, he's always more than willing to help me. Stanley is a special player, he's been in the program for a while and he knows a lot about the offense and different aspects of the game. Why not ask a player that not only plays the same position as I do, but plays it well? Also, Stanley can help me with certain situations I'll be placed in if I were in the game. He's more than willing to help me and has been a big part of me learning the offense a little bit faster than I would have.

SS: I've asked this question of all the true freshmen this year. What has your overall experience at USC been like?

SHOEMATE: The experience has been great. As far as athletics and as far as the team goes, it's definitely been a great opportunity and exemplifies how football should be; it should be fun, as well as competitive and should mirror a passionate atmosphere. It is presented within the players who have come and gone through this program, and the players who are still here. We have a passion for the game and love this game. The coaches run around and have a great time, and as players it pushes us to go out there and do the same. That's all we know here.

SS: Last year Chris Galippo told us that his time at Servite really prepared him well for the rigors of being a student athlete at USC. Do feel the same way?

SHOEMATE: We have a lot of teachers, a lot of staff and a lot of alums who have gone through Servite, who continually remind us that being by players who move onto college were not there just for football. We need to establish ourselves with a great reputation based on having great moral values and represent what our parents have taught us as well as what the Catholic/Christian community has taught us and go about ourselves with pride. As far as academics go, I would say Servite greatly prepared me. Teachers continually reminded us we are great athletes, but academics are the main thing that is going to allow us to play on the field. So, in order for us to play the game we love so much, we're going to have to settle down and take care of the things are going to allow us to play. We have a lot of people in our corner and pushing us to do our best on and off the field.

SS: In the past some SC recruits voiced their concern over the academic support system USC has in place, but Steve Martinez, John Martinez's (2009) father said he was extremely impressed USC's presentation when John took his official visit. In the end, the academic advisors, tutors etc. can only hold your hand so far.

SHOEMATE: When you come here, you have to take care of business. When you get a four-year scholarship, you definitely need to take advantage of that. Not a lot of people have that opportunity,. It's a simple concept that is often taken for granted, if a player has an opportunity to go to a D-1 university with a great academic and prestigious background like USC, why not take advantage of it? There's more to life than just football. By talking to a lot of alumni who have gone to the NFL, they told me that football is an average of four to seven years, and after that you have a whole life to provide for yourself, but most importantly your family. So, we need to buckle down, remain focused and the skies the limit.

SS: With Mark Sanchez entering the 2009 NFL draft and USC developing a new starting quarterback this season, there are many who doubt the USC offense can perform at a high level. What are your thoughts on that line of thinking?

SHOMATE: We have so many players we can use in different situations. I'm not going to describe that in depth, but can confidently say that we have a wide variety of talent on this team. People may degrade our ability, or belittle our ability compared to what we've had in the past, but with the players we have here (at USC), we can definitely get the job done.

SS: It's really cool that you, Matt Kalil and Galippo have this unique situation to continue playing football with each other for another, at least three years. That said, isn't also pretty cool having Frank Kalil around for another four years, too?

SHOEMATE: He's awesome, man! It definitely brings back the memories of my childhood when I was nine years old. Nothing has changed. The only things that have changed are; the players, the coaches and the color of the uniform. The game is still the same as well as the feelings for the game. Overall it's a great atmosphere. I don't regret the decision to go here. It's all about having fun, having a family atmosphere and there is a great balance between business and having fun. It's just great to be here.

SS: Ultimately, why do so many elite prospects from around the country choose USC, despite such a deep depth chart at so many positions?

SHOEMATE: We come here specifically to compete, that is Coach Carroll's motto with recruiting and that's his motto when we're here. He was born to be a competitive person that inspires and he brings that out in us. No complaints in my book.

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