“I didn’t just kick a game-winning field goal,” said Ian Shannon .“It’s not like I woke up and I got good at what I’m doing.”
Not at all. The Marietta (Ga.) punter/kicker had to dig deep in order to become one of the top punters in the country. He had a rough start during his first season, missing the very first field goal he ever kicked. However, one season later he went 16-for-18.
“My dad is from Ireland, he sometimes would say what’s a football, where is the soccer ball,” Shannon said. “We are both learning the game…I sacrificed my summer and some of my coaches sacrificed it for practice. My family and my coaches sacrificed so much time for me. “
Shannon is very grateful for those sacrifices and now has the opportunity to play football at the college level. Army, Appalachian State, Georgia State, Southeastern Louisiana and now UVa have all offered the Marietta standout. However, this could just be the beginning. The 6-foot-4, 200 pounder is also seeing interest from Florida State, Georgia Tech and Auburn.
Virginia was the latest school to offer Shannon during his recent visit to Charlottesville. A visit that almost did not happen.”
“I had a big decision to make this weekend too. I really wanted to compete at Kohl’s kicking camp to become the Under Armour All-American or Semper Fidelis All-American,” he explained. “I love competition, and I love trying to beat kids out and I had a good chance to do that. My mom asked me, ‘Ian are you sure you don’t want to have the chance to be an All-American and have that experience?’ But I didn’t know if I will ever get this chance to visit UVa again.”
It seemed that the nine-hour trip was in fact worth it.
”Coach (Larry) Lewis said, if I didn’t come they probably wouldn’t have offered, and I said shoot mom if I had gone to the All-American, I wouldn’t have got the offer today. I think I definitely made the right decision.”
Accompanied by his mother, Shannon had only high praise for the Wahoos.
“We were trying to act cool,” said Shannon. “We both got in the car (after the visit), and we weren’t talking. We were going to grab something to eat. We were calm and then we just said wow that was some tour.”
Shannon and his mom received the full treatment during their visit. They talked about the academics.
“First thing we did before we even talked about football was we talked about academics first,” he said. “She (Elizabeth Crady) explained depending on which major I would choose it would be a different path, so she basically walked me through my four years or five years.”
They toured the facilities.
“The new indoor facilities are absolutely gorgeous. It is something else.”
(The lawn) That was amazing. I’ve visited a lot of colleges, but I’ve never seen something like that. The history behind that too-I love reading Edgar Allen Poe and I saw his dorm room..We didn’t just get a college tour, my mom and I said we got a museum tour.”
“Coach Lewis was very straight with me,” said Shannon. “He was explaining how everything works, where everything is in relation to where you would be staying. They answered everything that we could have possibly of asked.
“I expected to be intimidated, but I didn’t have that feeling at all with Coach London,” Shannon added. “He is so welcoming.”
“Being at the bottom of the food chain, being a kicker, he emphasized the importance of kickers and special teams. I talk to coach Lewis about schemes and formations; and it was a good to talk to someone who knows about special teams. “
But now coach Lewis isn’t the only coach Shannon will be able to approach on the Virginia staff.
“(London) immediately established one of the best relationships I had with a coach. If I come to Virginia, I can come to talk to the head coach. He wants to relate to me, he just crossed his legs and asked me for my life story.”
And Shannon’s life story could be considered unique. Born one of a set of triplets, Shannon’s parents will see their nest empty next year, when he, his brother and sister move away for school. Although UVa is far away for his parents to see him often, his mother received many assurances on this trip.
“One question she did have was if I was injured , they would guarantee the opportunity to get a degree, as long as you are not doing anything stupid.. It was good that she was part of the visit. “
The other assurance is how familiar Charlottesville is.
“ It honestly feels like I am in Marietta. The head coach is like my head coach. Coach London brought out some analogies that coach (Scott) Burton uses.
“Coach (Blanda) Wolf is identical to our defensive coordinator, coach Meade Coming down the hallway, I heard him say, where is the punter at, and I honestly hear coach Meade say that everyday. So I thought, coach Meade is here too! It feels like I am a Marietta but just a few hundred miles away.”
It seems like a hundred years ago when Shannon took his first kick. But he knows without the support he received, he would not be in his position today.
“It’s not my doing. It was school, my personal kicking coach, coach Burton is doing so much- everyday he is thinking about us,” he explained. “My mom and dad are paying all this money driving me around. We’re triplets, to prepare to send three kids off to college isn’t easy. I’m really grateful to all these people trying to help me. I wouldn’t have done it myself.”
He won’t be making this decision himself either. Shannon looks to take his time before he makes his commitment.