With 16 days until No. 10 Auburn football hits the turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against No. 6 Washington, true freshman running back Shaun Shivers is doing it all for the Tigers.
As a four-star recruit out of Hollywood, Florida (Chaminade-Madonna Prep), Shivers was touted as an “all-purpose back.” Through nearly two weeks of fall camp, that label has been spot-on.
Shivers works with Tim Horton and the running backs, but has seen time at slot receiver, as well as a speed-sweep specialist role in the Wildcat formation.
All that’s left to do is to throw the football.
“Shaun is impressive,” Horton said Thursday at Auburn’s annual assistant coaches interview session. “He’s got great speed … he had a nice 40-yard run for touchdown that was just — you blink and he’s already in the endzone.”
Shivers didn’t early-enroll like fellow freshman back Asa Martin, and he doesn’t have a year in the system like redshirt freshman JaTarvious Whitlow. Still, he’s being asked to soak in Gus Malzahn’s complex offensive schemes and is taking them in stride. Horton credits summer workouts — when players have to learn without a football.
“The freshmen are coming in a lot more prepared than they were four, five years ago,” Horton said. “Shaun had a chance to learn (the offense) in June … when you can teach them a little bit earlier, I think you’re going to see more and more freshmen continue to contribute.”
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Although Shivers’ scrimmage score was apparently a break-away, nearly untouched run, he’s been going right at the defense with all his 173-pound frame during fall camp.
That may not have been the intention. Horton and Auburn’s recruiters went after Shivers hoping to recreate a former Tiger who saw tremendous success when Malzahn was Auburn’s offensive coordinator. What they’ve uncovered is a player more versatile — and stronger — than expected.
Auburn will certainly take it.
“We may have recruited (Shivers) with this idea that he’s just a perimeter player, kind of like Onterio McCalebb was when Auburn won the national championship,” Horton said. “But he’s not just that. He’s a guy that can run between the tackles as well. He’s a got a chance to be a really good player for us.”
One of McCalebb’s teammates from the 2010 national title season drew the same comparison.
“That’s real speed,” said Kodi Burns, current Auburn receivers coach and former Auburn wide receiver (2007-10). “He’s been one of those guys, kind of an Onterio McCalebb type, running back who can reverse, speed sweep.
“He does it all. He’s a big-time talent. As small as he is, he’s a tough kid, he’s going to run between the tackles. He’s a pure running back.”
That “pure running back” would likely see the field if the Tigers were to battle the Huskies tomorrow. Horton highlighted Kam Martin and Whitlow as the top two backs but said Shivers “hasn’t disappointed at all” and will continue to be in the mix.
The Tigers return to practice tomorrow after an off day for team pictures Thursday. Malzahn and select players will meet with the media Sunday for post-practice interviews at 11:30 a.m. CT.
Bonus quote: “Nah, he’s from South Florida, man. That doesn’t surprise me at all.” -- Burns on if Shivers’ physicality has caught him off guard.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman