When Kansas University’s football players first saw the 2009 football schedule, they knew they’d be facing a likely Heisman Trophy candidate during the Nov. 21 game at Texas.
What the Jayhawks didn’t know then was that the UT roster actually featured a pair of Heisman candidates, as wide receiver Jordan Shipley has emerged to join UT quarterback Colt McCoy as a viable candidate for college football’s most prestigious award.
Through 10 games, Shipley, a sixth-year senior from Burnet, Texas, has recorded 1,096 yards receiving and eight touchdowns on 81 receptions. With another 341 yards and two more TDs in the return game, Shipley is far and away the team leader in all-purpose yardage. Because of that, along with the slightly watered-down national race for the award, Shipley’s name has been tossed into the Heisman hopper in recent weeks.
Not that you can tell by listening to him talk.
“The reason I came back this year is to be a part of this great team and to hopefully win all of the games,” said Shipley, who considered entering the NFL Draft after last season. “That is the first and foremost goal. Other than that, I don’t care about the individual stuff. Obviously, I want to do well, and I want to help this team win, but as far as my personal goals and the team goals, I just want to help this team win.”
He has done that. And, at times, he’s done enough to overshadow McCoy, a notable feat considering last week’s victory over Baylor made McCoy the first QB in college football history to have four consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more. With a win today — kickoff is set for 7 p.m. — he’ll become the winningest quarterback in NCAA history.
“You look at Jordan Shipley: Nobody has overcome more than Jordan Shipley to get what he’s gotten today,” UT coach Mack Brown said. “Anything that he gets, he paid for. He was patient. He waited his turn. (Then) you start looking at Colt McCoy. Who can take over for (former UT quarterback) Vince Young and handle it? The first thing he says is, ‘I’m not Vince Young. I can’t be Vince Young.’ Here he is, he’s already won 42 games. He’s polite, a great role model, and he’s taken over and been not only one of the best quarterbacks in Texas history, but ever.”
As if title aspirations and national awards don’t already give this team enough to play for, tonight’s game also is Senior Day, when 22 Longhorns will take the field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the final time.
“The ’05 seniors and the ’08 seniors have 45 wins, so (with 42 victories the ’09 seniors) still have some work to do to be the winningest class in the history of Texas football,” Brown said. “I’m kind of glad the game is (at) night because our fans will have all day to get excited about it. It’ll be a tremendous atmosphere, and we need to send our seniors out the right way and give them a crazy crowd.
“The best thing about being 10-0 at this point of the season is the opportunity to be 11-0,” Brown continued. “We’ve got to quit talking about anything that’s happened in the first 10 (games) and make sure that Kansas is our goal.”