By now, you're probably well-versed in the saga of the McCoy and Shipley men and how the sons of two former college football roommates would go on to become roommates themselves and in the process team up to make college football look kind of easy. The backstory and the fact that two small-town guys have gone on to lead the state's alpha program to an 11-win season is everything Disney wants a movie to be about.
And while I realize we're smack in the middle of Longhorn hate week, I have to tip my hat to the four men. I mean, is there anything more gratifying for a Texan than to coach his son in high school and then go on to see his son and the son of his best friend combining to rewrite the record books at UT? Even crazy, cursing, spitting Sooner grandma might begrudgingly admit to thinking the story had a somewhat nice feel to it.
Though Jordan Shipley arrived in Austin a year before his battery-mate, he had to wait a bit longer for success at this level, thanks to terrible injury luck his first two years on campus. It was a shame, too, because Longhorn fans were salivating over the smallish, but super-productive receiver out of Burnet High School. The former Parade All-American had a monster senior season, hauling in 95 passes for 1,920 yards and 30 touchdowns. That year proved to be the perfect capstone on a brilliant career that saw Shipley leave owning every major career receiving record in Texas high school history1.
But back to the injuries: Shipley was redshirted his freshman season (2004) at Texas and then missed the entire next year with a bum hammy. Before he knew it, he was a redshirt sophomore with zero career touches. That year, he got the ball 23 times, with seven of those coming on runs. Though he didn't see the field against the Buckeyes, he did pull in four touchdowns in 2006, including one of those scores that count for triple in Texas folklore -- a touchdown on the Sooners in the 28-10 victory.
In his redshirt junior season of 2007, he had a very Sanzenbacher-like regular season with 21 receptions in seven starts, but he bested Dane's touchdown numbers five to one. More importantly for Longhorn fans, he took a big step in the Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State by catching a career-high six passes. The McCoy-Shipley link was connected for the first time.
This year, the combination is off the charts. McCoy was your Heisman runner-up, while Shipley has 79 receptions and 11 touchdown catches heading into Monday night's Fiesta Bowl. Just 18 yards short of 1,000, he'll probably cross that mark midway through the first quarter. Think Gonzo, but with a lot more balls thrown his way. A smart kid, that's fast, runs fantastic routes and has great hands, he's everything you want in a college receiver. And did I mention that he communicates with his quarterback through telepathy?
He'll often line up in the slot, though Tressel loves to move his best cover guy to take away an opponent's top receiver, so don't be surprised to see a lot of Jenkins on him. Can he be stopped? At times. The Longhorns played what you might call three close games this season and in two of them, the wins against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, he absolutely blew-up. However, in the one loss to Texas Tech, he was held to just 42 yards and most importantly, kept out of the end zone -- something that hasn't happend with a whole lot of frequency this season2.
Assuming the best and Jenkins does a decent job of bottling him up (which is still damn-near impossible considering Colt's accuracy and the short passing philosophy employed), you still have to worry about Shipley on special teams. He's not only very good, but he's very clutch. In the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma had just scored its 2nd touchdown to go up 14-3 just two minutes into the 2nd quarter. Shipley received the ensuing kickoff and took it back 96 yards to the house and all of a sudden it's a ballgame again. Down 22-6 to Tech in the 3rd quarter, it was his 45-yard punt return that cut the lead to 10 and kick-started the Longhorn near-comeback. Or get a load of this: here's your holder, going Superman.
Sufficiently worried? Good. He's back again for more terror next year after successfully petitioning the NCAA for a 6th season.
1 Shipley's quarterback at Burnet was current Texas A&M signal-caller Stephen McGee.
2 After racing out to a touchdown reception in each of his first eight games (10 TDs total), Shipley has been held to just one receiving score in the Longhorn's last four games.