Jaxon Shipley has some big shoes to fill.
The freshman wide receiver has been the talk of fall camp thanks to a striking resemblance to one of the best wide outs in Longhorn history, Jordan Shipley, Jaxon’s older brother.
Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite watched the elder Shipley reinvent the receiver position at Texas by using sharp route running, precise timing and sure hands to dismantle opposing defenses. Now, with a young, unproven receiving corps, Applewhite hopes Jaxon can turn the similarities with his older brother into results.
“It’s eerie watching tape,” Applewhite said. “It’s scary; it’s almost the same guy. The way they come out of their breaks, the way they catch the ball, the way they tuck it and get up field — it’s very, very similar. It’s a good thing.”
That’s high praise, considering Jordan Shipley has the most career receptions (248) in Texas history, the most touchdowns in a season (13 in 2009) and the most receiving yards in a season (1,485 in 2009).
But while Jaxon may be burdened with the large shadow of his older brother, he certainly doesn’t show it. The coaching staff raves about the freshman’s preparation and the way he’s energized the passing game and the offense with his presence on the field.
“He’s great to be around,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “He provides an energy, not just for that particular group, but for our entire offense out there with his practice habits. For a young guy, the way he practices and the way he prepares has been impressive.”
Shipley, though, began his preparation for the season long before fall camp started.
He spent part of the summer in Brownwood with junior safety Kenny Vaccaro, training and competing in one-on-one drills. Vaccaro, who projects to be a starter this year, admitted that Shipley got the best of him and fully expects the newcomer to make an immediate impact in 2011.
“He’s a polished receiver,” Vaccaro said. “He works hard and he’s ready. He’s a good receiver. I think he will be a big time playmaker on this team this year.”
Texas needs as many playmakers as it can find on offense and will look toward Shipley as one option to solidify the passing game. The Longhorns’ receivers are a relatively inexperienced bunch, only three wide outs have game experience and DeSean Hales is the only receiver with two seasons under his belt.
The losses of Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin to other commitments this season, coupled with the graduation of James Kirkendoll and John Chiles have left the receiving corps with a lot to prove.
In addition to Shipley, redshirt freshman John Harris and freshman Miles Onyegbule, along with sophomores Mike Davis and Darius White, all have a chance to usher in a new era of Longhorn receivers.
“There’s a physical edge to those guys,” Applewhite said. “It’s a bigger group of guys. They’re a physical group, and you can sense from them just a competitive pride. They’ve got a little chip on their shoulder.”
With so many new faces at once, and with starting jobs open across the board, the receivers have been forced to forge a healthy chemistry while battling for playing time. The group may not have an identity yet, but that hasn’t stopped them from competing.
“It takes time,” Harris said. “We’re getting there. We’re just a young, prideful group and we all want to be on the field.”
Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Jaxon Shipley reminds coaches of his record-setting brother.