By Bo Rhodes
You probably don’t know who he is and you probably don’t know what he’s done. For rookie middle linebacker PJ Shea that’s just fine. As far as he’s concerned he "didn’t do anything special this year."
"Special" would refer to the team-leading 50 individual tackles Shea completed. As a matter of fact, he finished in sixth in the entire country for this little accomplishment. Shea has a reason for that.
"It was fortunate that I led the team in tackles but the only reason I did that is because David Swagar and Ian Schafer were hurt. I just played."
Dinos defensive coordinator Jerry Friesen describes Shea as "level headed. He knows what he has to do to get better and he knows what he’s done. His character is outstanding."
Football and PJ have been together for a long time.
"I’ve always been a fat little guy. It’s easy to play football when you’re fat and little. I’ve always had football in my head."
Brian McCorquodale, Shea’s high school football coach, had a profound effect on his life.
"I wouldn’t be playing football. I wouldn’t be doing half the things in my life if it wasn’t for Coach McCorquodale. That dude was huge."
Other sources of inspiration in his life include his fiancee, his dog and his father.
"My dad’s at the highest point in his field. He’s so smart. I can’t even obtain a quarter of his brains."
PJ is definitely not lacking in the intelligence department. ("I don’t want to be classified as some jock.") He’s in his Þfth year of school and plans on getting three degrees: General Studies, English and Education. He’ll probably end up teaching.
"Little kids. They’re easy to throw around."
After high school the rookie linebacker tried out for the Dinos but he "was too fat and slow." He took four years off and decided that he would give it another shot for
the 1999 season. Not wishing to repeat the performance of his first try out, Shea trained with the Boa track club. He now credits that as the whole reason he made the team.
Shea returned to the fold because of the prowess associated with being on the team. "I just wanted to be cool; to be a Dino."
Football is religion for some and can occupy your every thought. No one knows that better than Shea.
"During football season there’s nothing else. I go to classes and stuff but my head’s not there. Football is all consuming"
When comparing high school ball to university he says there really isn’t that much difference when it comes to intensity, however the physical aspect of the game is a lot more punishing.
"The guys I go against outweigh me by 90 lbs."
You’d think that you would have to be extremely athletic to take down guys that are so much bigger. PJ doesn’t see himself that way though.
"I’m not an athlete. Jeff Lewis, James Robertson, those guys are specialized athletes. I’m just some schmo. One day I might be an athlete. I’ll wake up one morning and I’ll be wearing spandex everywhere and halter tops."
Friesen might argue that. "He established himself on the field. as a starter. When he makes plays, the other players know that he contributes to the success of the team."
With the rookie jitters out of the way, God only knows what Shea has in store. Marriage, for sure; three degrees to nail to the wall and as for football, "there’s so many things. For me this year was all about experience."