In the Trenches with Sonny Shackelford

Oct. 7, 2004

With starting receivers Charles Frederick and Corey Williams out for last week's game against Stanford, Washington's offense turned to its outstanding class of second-year receivers to fill the void. Sophomores Quinton Daniels and Anthony Russo, and redshirt freshman Bobby Whithorne each made an impact in the game, but none were as prolific as sophomore Sonny Shackelford, whose career-best five catches for 54 yards included the second-year player's first-career touchdown. A graduate of Beverly Hills High School in Southern California, Shackelford first saw the field last season, appearing in all 12 games for the Huskies while pulling down seven catches for 92 yards. If the Huskies are to keep up with a San Jose State team that scored 70 points against Rice last weekend, it is likely Shackelford's talents will be needed again. reporter Jesse Hulsing met with the former California All-Star on Monday to gather his opinions on a number of football-related subjects. How did it feel to catch the first touchdown of your college career against Stanford?
Sonny Shackelford: 'It felt really good to score my first touchdown, but it also felt bad because we lost the game. It was kind of mixed emotions.'

GH: Do you think you will be catching a few more of those this year?
Shackelford: 'As long as I'm on the field I'm going to try and do the best I can for the team. I can't promise anything, because maybe I won't be down by the endzone when they throw the ball, but if I am I'm definitely going to get it.'

GH: Are Charles Frederick's shoes pretty tough to fill?
Shackelford: 'He's been a great player for four years now, but I think I'm up to it. If he's hurt and can't play, then I think I can definitely step up and fill his shoes with no problems.'

GH: There's been some attention paid by the media recently to dropped balls by the Huskies' young receiving corps. Do you see that as a problem, and if so, how do you plan to fix it?
Shackelford: 'Just like anybody else who plays any other position, you have good days and bad days, good quarters and bad quarters, good plays and bad plays. I think we need to work on our consistency as a whole group. We are starting to see playing time, and we are getting a lot more comfortable. That is what you need to be -- comfortable. On the field, everybody is getting to the level where they need to be. So expect a lot better things as the weeks progress.'

GH: Do you have to adjust your game at all to adapt to different quarterbacks' styles?
Shackelford: 'No, in practice the QBs rotate a lot, so everybody has got their timing down. I'm not sure what the effect of rotating quarterbacks has on the rest of the team, but the receivers are used to all three of them.'

GH: San Jose State and Rice combined for 163 points and some pretty big passing numbers last Saturday. As an offensive player, does that make you any more excited for this week's game?
Shackelford: 'I'm looking forward to it. I look forward to coming out and catching balls in every game, hearing the crowd go crazy, and just helping the team get pumped up overall. When I hear stats like that, just like the other receivers, I want to come out and catch the ball and make plays.'

GH: How much of a difference does playing at home make?
Shackelford: 'We travel well. When we go other places, we still have a big crowd -- it's not as big as a home crowd, but it's still friendly. When it's at home it's more than friendly because you have 70,000 people in the stands cheering for you.'

GH: How important is for you guys to have a good game against San Jose, to build confidence for yourselves and for the fans, too?
Shackelford: 'It has to be a great game for us because we need the confidence builder; we need to prove to ourselves that we can play. I think that we know that we can play because in practice we play very well. Not to say we don't play well in games, because we do play well, but sometimes people make mistakes. But we have to come out and play well.'

GH: As a team, have you played yet as well as you are capable of playing?
Shackelford: 'As a whole team I think that we can play a lot better. We have higher expectations for ourselves and we need to meet those expectations.'

GH: Do you have any individual or team goals for the rest of the season?
Shackelford: 'Obviously, everyone wants to be the best that they can be, be an All-American. I just want to help my team out the best that I can, by getting open so I can find the quarterback, find the ball, and find the endzone.'

GH: Aren't you from Beverly Hills?
Shackelford: 'I'm from L.A., but I went to school in Beverly Hills. A lot of people get that mixed up.'

GH: What do you think about the California schools?
Shackelford: 'There's a lot of competition in California; it's a big state. There's a lot of people out there, a lot of recruitment that goes on in California. It's fun playing ball down there, and it's fun going back home and seeing my family.'

GH: Now that classes have started, how does that affect your daily schedule?
Shackelford: 'It's different getting back into the school mode, mixing football and school together. It's not really that hard because you've been juggling it all your life. But it's kind of different when you have four weeks of straight football, no school, then all the sudden you throw school into the factor. It takes some getting used to, but it's alright.'

GH: You probably don't have too much free time?
Shackelford: 'No, I don't have any free time. Sunday is my only day off and even then I'm still doing homework.'

GH: Thanks for the interview!

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