There were his two touchdowns in Pasadena against Alabama, the tide-turning kickoff return against Oklahoma, the 80-yard catch and run against Central Florida, the toe-dragging touchdown against Arkansas and all the clutch third-down conversions he ever caught.
Former Longhorn Jordan Shipley’s celebrated feats were missed last year. The season after Texas’ all-time leader in receptions graduated, the offense struggled to fill the void he left in the passing game and the return game missed his magic.
Maybe his younger brother Jaxon can help.
“I have been looking forward to playing for Texas my whole life,” Jaxon said. “Next season’s going to be great.”
Jaxon became the first verbal commit of the 2011 class at last year’s Junior Day. Texas fans were buzzing before they even had a chance to see his highlight reel. A large part of the hype was because of the name on the back of his jersey.
But his play speaks for itself. Jaxon finished his senior season at Brownwood High School with 87 receptions for 1,653 yards and 27 touchdowns. <em>Rivals.com</em> ranked him as the ninth-best wide receiver in his class and the 62nd-best player in the nation. He was selected to the Army All-American team and also played in the USA vs. World All-Star game.
The spotlight has been on Jaxon since fifth grade — just people wanting to see if the younger Shipley would be anything like the older one.
“Jaxon has been in that shadow since he started playing football,” their father Bob Shipley said. “But he doesn’t mind it. It gives him some encouragement to see everything that Jordan did and know that he can do the same thing.”
The start of his high school career at Coppell High School was the year that his father — who was head coach in high school to both Jordan and Jaxon — knew that he had raised a second premier wide receiver.
“His sophomore year at Coppell he had a really good year,” Bob said. “It was evident that he had a chance to be pretty special, and I knew that he would play Division I college football.”
Jaxon committed to Texas the February after his junior season (Bob took the Lions’ head coaching job after Jaxon’s sophomore year). The decision was a no-brainer.
“It wasn’t hard at all for Texas to get my commitment,” he said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to go the whole time.”
His senior season, with the eyes of Texas watching his every move, Jaxon took his game to another level. With every catch and every punt return — he took five back for touchdowns — it became more and more apparent that head coach Mack Brown had reeled in the perfect player to help revive the offense.
“I’d like to start my freshman year, and I’m going to put in a lot of hard work for that,” Jaxon said. “I’m going to go out and achieve my goals.”
Jaxon plans to inherit the No. 8 jersey from his older brother. He runs crisp routes, has tremendous hands and plays bigger than he is at 6-feet tall, will soar up and grab the football out of a crowd, can play both the slot and flanker positions and punters will learn to kick away from him for the fear of giving up a touchdown — all just like his brother.
Though he graduated early from Brownwood, Jaxon decided not to enroll this spring at Texas. Instead, he’ll spend his spring living and working out with Jordan. The two have been spending time in both Austin and Brownwood, and they plan to also work out in Cincinatti, where Jordan plays in the NFL.
“I think the thing Jordan can teach Jaxon the best is the mental side of the game,” Bob said. “They’ll probably work on route running and things like that, but Jordan will give him pointers on how to adjust to and handle the pressures of the college game.”
There aren’t many better people to learn the ins and outs of the wide receiver position from than Jordan Shipley. Jaxon has had that luxury his whole life, watching first-hand as his brother went from high school standout to NFL player. Now, it’s his turn.
“To have the opportunity to play for Texas is something I’ve been working hard for,” he said. “I’m ready to put on that Longhorn jersey.”
The timing couldn’t be better. Texas fans sure have missed that number eight.