No. 131: Jaxon Shipley, No. 8, Texas, Wide Receiver
We all know about Jordan Shipley and Colt McCoy, the dynamic duo for Texas that almost led them to a BCS title in 2009. Now, both of their younger brothers reside on the Texas roster for head coach Mack Brown.
The struggles of Case McCoy have been well-documented, as the quarterback just cannot seem to get right in order to win the position from David Ash. But Jaxon Shipley appears to be following in his big brothers footsteps, not struggling to live up to the hype.
A true, true understanding of the wide receiver position. Jaxon Shipley, at 6'1" and 190 pounds, is not the biggest human being on earth, but the rising sophomore does have a tremendous football IQ. Yesterday, we referenced Marcus Davis of Virginia Tech not knowing where to sit down and when to sprint off entering his redshirt senior year. As a true freshman, Jaxon Shipley has already showed that knowledge.
Shipley is a scary proposition for opposing defenses, because the kid knows what he is doing. He caught 44 balls as a true freshman and put up 607 yards on those catches. They were not all deep balls and screens either. Shipley had to work to get open in the intermediate—something he has shown a knack for early in his career. He's also shown the capability to be slippery when he's loose in the open field, and that's a big positive for a receiver that is lacking in the size department.
Another strength for Shipley is his arm. Ordinarily, the wide receiver position does not feature the arm, but Jaxon Shipley has proven time and again that he's at least as reliable as the Texas quarterback tandem. In fact, after the spring game, wide receiver DJ Grant had this to say about Shipley and his quarterback skills:
“He has a good ball,” Grant said of wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, the player who made the prettiest throw Sunday during UT's spring game at Royal-Memorial Stadium. “If he got as many reps (as the quarterbacks), he'd probably be just as good.”
Not a vote of confidence for the Longhorns current quarterbacks, but more points for Shipley.
It is hard to find fault in his game, especially given his quarterback situation, but the two obvious weakness are he's not fast and he's not big. Shipley is not slow, but he doesn't possess the top-end speed that most smallish wide receivers utilize to get open. The top speed just doesn't get there quick enough to be a factor for Shipley, hence him developing the other parts of his game to be successful.
As a small and less-than-fast wide receiver, Shipley is limited in what he can do on the field. This is not to say his ceiling for production is limited; rather, what Texas can actually use him to do is limited. Shipley is never going to be a big-time red zone target, and he's never going to be the jump-ball receiver that bigger, stronger players become.
Before we get into the numbers for Shipley, all of these predictions are based upon the assumption that David Ash is a much-improved quarterback. If he can just get up to being mediocre or decent at the position, then Shipley is set to have a big year.
With an offseason of weight training and building a rapport with Ash, expect Shipley to push his catch total even higher this year. 44 balls is a lot for a freshman. This season, Shipley should be able to add another 20 to that total, as he understands what Ash is comfortable with against different defenses. Shipley is capable of pushing the 800- to 900-yard mark in receiving with that increase in receptions. Things are looking good for Shipley in his sophomore campaign.