Oct. 3, 2006
By Christian Caple
SEATTLE -- Sonny Shackelford may have been a five-sport athlete in high school, but let it be known: The wide receiver from Los Angeles is a football player through and through.
"I started off with baseball," Shackelford said. "Baseball was my first love, but I started playing flag football when I was maybe 6 years old and that's been my focus ever since. Football was what I wanted to do."
As a senior at Beverly Hills High School, Shackelford put up numbers that would make almost any college coach drool. The 6-foot-2-inch wide-out made 65 catches for 1,465 yards and found the end zone an astonishing 20 times during his senior season. With numbers like that, it made it an easy call for the UW to recruit him to Montlake.
"When I was first coming here, [former coach Rick] Neuheisel was the coach, and everyone wanted to play for him," Shackelford said. "Plus they had guys like Paul Arnold and Wilbur Hooks leaving, so there was an opportunity to come here and play. I wanted to take advantage of that, and it's turned out pretty well."
"All we're trying to do is score one more point than the other team. It doesn't matter what the score is; it could be 3-2 as long as we win the game, it doesn't matter."
Shackelford started all 11 games last year, and has led the Huskies in receiving in each of the past two seasons. He also led the team in all- purpose yards last season with 736 - returning punts and kickoffs in addition to his time as a receiver. Through Washington's first five games this season, Shackelford has caught 21 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns - all of which are team highs.
In an offense that, according to critics, has lacked a big-play receiver since the departure of Reggie Williams, Shackelford stands out as a key threat in the improved Husky offense. But the emphasis isn't on him, Shackelford said.
"All we're trying to do is score one more point than the other team," the senior stated. "It doesn't matter what the score is; it could be 3-2 as long as we win the game, it doesn't matter."
So is Shackelford the go-to receiver for the Dawgs?
"Obviously, I would hope so," he said. "But there's no telling right now. The season's not over, and there are a lot of guys on this team that can make plays. I'm just one of them."
Off the field, Shackelford likes to hang out with his teammates and friends, much in the manner of any other college student. "We kick back at the house," Shackelford said. "We just watch TV, watch movies and play video games ... stuff like that."
When the Huskies travel to Los Angeles this weekend to take on the Trojans, Shackelford will be in familiar territory. Growing up in Los Angeles, he attended countless games at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
When asked just how many, Shackelford laughed, "A whole bunch. I can't put a number on it, but I've been there a lot of times."
But the game is important for more reasons than that, Shackelford said.
"The USC game will definitely put us in perspective," he said. "It's a real big game, because it will tell us where we really are in the Pac-10."
After the season concludes, it's clear what Shackelford's focus will be.
"Play football," he says confidently. "My main goal is to go to the next level and play some more football."
If he continues his success, very few would be surprised to see the name "Shackelford" donning the back of an NFL jersey.