Shavies making the most of his second chance

PULLMAN -- Two years ago <b>Josh Shavies</b> was an underachieving tight end who was booted from the WSU football team for several reasons, one of which was to get his grades up. But it wasn't being kicked off the squad that forced the soon-to-be fifth-year senior defensive lineman to get his academic house in order.

"Since I lost my scholarship that meant I had to start taking out loans ...that was rough," Shavies said. "When you fail a class it means something, you've got to re-pay for it. That definitely influenced me to go to class."

Then Shavies made the decision to attempt a football comeback with the Cougars. So last season he toiled, scholarship-less, at his new post way down the depth chart of the defensive line.

But he kept on plugging away - - on the field and in the class room.

The time was well spent. The agile 300-pounder was re-awarded his scholarship yesterday after practice.

"It was exciting," he said. "It was one of my goals coming back."

When Shavies, brother of standout defensive end Fred Shavies, first arrived in Pullman with the much-coveted recruiting class of 1999 he was one of the true plums. The problem was that he knew it. And playing time as a true freshman only reinforced it.

"As a freshman I had already accomplished all this stuff in high school," he said. "Fred was telling me what it was like, but I took some things for granted. A lot of freshmen think they are good, but they don't realize everyone here is good. You've got to be able to perform."

Shavies declined to go into detail about why he was booted from the team, saying only that he had some "fallout" with the coaches, along with his grades slipping.

After being removed from the team he was left to evaluate what he wanted to do with his life.

Life without football was tough, he said. But he was committed to getting his degree.

Bitter at first, Shavies finally decided to ask former head coach Mike Price for a second chance. Price granted him that  chance on the condition he restore his grades. Shavies went to work putting in extra study hours, reading more, and concentrating on his tests. Even last season when he was re-instated on the team he didn't let the grades dip.

"I just needed to understand what it meant to be a college athlete," Shavies said. "It took some sacrifice but every athlete has to do it."

His re-emergence will no doubt play a big role in the Cougar defense next season.

"He's so big on the inside that he takes up like two or three people," defensive line coach Mike Walker said. "He needs to learn how to use his hands better. But he is so tall and so fast that he'll be able to do a lot of things that Tomasi (Kongaika) couldn't do for us last year, like stripping the ball. He's already got like six knockdowns this spring."

WEDNESDAY PRACTICE NOTES:

Quarterback Chris Hurd sat out practice with a bum knee. He is doubtful for Saturday's Crimson and Gray game.

Devard Darling caught a 45-yard pass from Matt Kegel during today's scrimmage, bobbling the ball behind his head before securing it and scoring. Darling has had a quiet spring this year because the Cougs has been spending big chunks of offensive practice time working on short-yardage plays.

After being injured the first play of the scrimmage Saturday running back Jonathan Smith was back in uniform.  

Reserve backs Allen Thompson (shoulder) and Lavell Anderson (knee), corner Don Turner (arm), safety Erik Coleman (shoulder), and tackle Calvin Armstrong(knee) are all listed as "out" for the Crimson and Gray game. Linebacker Don Jackson is doubtful for Saturday.

Freshman linebacker Brian Hall of Walla Walla and senior defensive tackle Tai Tupai each blocked a pass during the scrimmage.  

Tight end Mark Ahlberg caught two passes and had a touchdown.


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