UW Football | Address doesn't tell true story
A year ago or so, Washington receiver Sonny Shackelford approached the school's athletic public-relations department and asked for a little...
Seattle Times staff reporter
A year ago or so, Washington receiver Sonny Shackelford approached the school's athletic public-relations department and asked for a little correction in his biography.
Before this season, Beverly Hills had been listed as Shackelford's official residence because he attended Beverly Hills High School.
It's a fact that has garnered Shackelford much ribbing during his time at UW — "90210" has been a popular nickname, although Isaiah Stanback had another one this week.
"Pretty boy," the Huskies quarterback said with a smile.
It all adds up to a perception of a kid who grew up in the lap of luxury, surrounded by, as the song says, "swimming pools, movie stars."
Washington @ Arizona, 7 p.m.
But as Shackelford says, "It's not all peaches and cream where I'm from."
In fact, Shackelford is from West Los Angeles, about 15 to 20 minutes away from Beverly Hills, something he wanted everyone to realize.
He commuted to Beverly Hills High because he thought it was a better school than ones that were closer and would best prepare him for college.
"To be honest, classes were sometimes harder at Beverly Hills than here when you put all those classes together, having six classes a day," he said. "Here you have just three a quarter. They definitely get you ready for college at my high school."
All of the above is a telling glimpse into why the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Shackelford has suddenly become UW's go-to receiver. He had a career-high nine catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns Saturday against UCLA and also grabbed the winning touchdown the previous week against Fresno State.
And he's accomplished it in part by being one of the most blue-collar guys on the team, having learned how to play every receiving position.
"There are always going to be guys faster than Sonny, quicker than Sonny and probably bigger and stronger than Sonny," said UW receivers coach Eric Yarber. "But with him knowing the offense and his knowledge of the game and his work ethic, he knows he can contribute at a high level."
It's that knowledge of the offense that might be helping Shackelford most right now. Many of the team's receivers rotate at a specific spot in the slot, or out wide, etc. But because Shackelford can play them all, Yarber can put him anywhere at any time. Saturday, when it became evident Shackelford had the hot hand, Yarber scrapped the rotation and left Shackelford in almost the entire game. Shackelford responded with touchdown grabs of 23 and 28 yards.
"He was just making plays," said UW offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "And it's not like he was always wide open. There were people near him and on him, but he just knows how to put a body on you and go up and make a play."
It was that aspect of Shackelford's game that Yarber first noticed when he saw him as a senior at Beverly Hills High. Shackelford barely weighed 170 pounds at the time and began the year almost off the recruiting radar because he had been forced to play quarterback as a junior.
"I was so much better as a receiver than I was as a quarterback," he said. "I was more of the option-style quarterback. I could throw the ball, but I didn't really throw the short ball so well."
He moved back up the recruiting lists quickly by catching 65 passes for 1,465 yards as a senior at Beverly Hills and was part of Washington's recruiting class of 2003. And though classmates such as Craig Chambers and Corey Williams arrived with more fanfare, it's Shackelford who has the most catches of that group, 85 for his career.
And while his measureables mean he's unlikely to be at the top of anyone's draft board next April, he's hoping to find a way to the NFL, where maybe he can someday lead that life of leisure people have assumed has been his all along.
"My dream has been to play in the NFL, and I'm sticking to it," he said. "Hopefully when I'm 40, I'll have quite a few millions in the bank where I don't have to do anything but just play golf."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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