AUBURN, Ala. — In any other recruiting class, Shaun Shivers easily could be the fastest incoming freshman. But since Auburn football also has receiver Anthony Schwartz, the Florida running back is a close — and elite — second speedster.
“It’s really going to be interesting, because we’ve got two players coming on our offense — one as a running back, one as a receiver — that’s as fast as any we’ve ever had,” Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton said last month. “Their 100-meter times in track are impressive.”
Shivers will arrive at Auburn later this summer as a running back. However, it’s impossible to restrict him to a tried-and-true archetype. At 5-foot-7 and boasting excellent speed, Shivers doesn’t have the look of a standard Auburn running back.
But he also doesn’t run like a normal “scatback,” either.
“[Shivers] kind of reminds me of [former Auburn running back] Onterio McCalebb as far as speed in pads,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said in December. “He can really run. He plays a lot bigger than he is and really plays with a great edge with that.”
Shivers plays with power, running through tackles with a ferocity that has to be seen to be believed. He rushed for more than 6,000 yards in his career at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I saw him play in person in high school in the state championship game and I was pleasantly surprised with how effective he was in-between the tackles, particularly as small as he is,” Horton said. “He really did a nice job there.”
Yet, Auburn is already thinking of using his quickness on the outside.
“I think, obviously, on the perimeter, he’s going to be exceptional,” Horton said. “… I think as far as being someone who can make things happen on the perimeter, I would like to think he can do that.”
Count Shivers among the players who could fill the speed sweep role in Auburn’s offense following the ACL injury to junior receiver Eli Stove.
Shivers is a natural ball carrier who isn’t afraid to work into traffic. While his body type doesn’t fit a typical flanker, his athleticism makes him a potential danger man in motion.
“I’m just a straight downhill runner like I’m 6-foot-4 or something,” Shivers said in January. “I just run downhill.”
Much like fellow freshman running back Harold Joiner, Auburn wants to move Shivers around to get him early opportunities. Shivers said in January that the Tigers staff had already talked about him playing slot receiver and return man in addition to running back.
“Just get the ball in space and let me do what I do,” Shivers said.
As Horton said last month, a lot of Shivers’ early success will come down to how quickly he can learn the playbook and how much he can contribute in running routes and blocking.
But don’t let his size fool you. Auburn already sees big things coming from Shivers — and he does, too.
“When [Auburn fans] see me play that first game, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, yeah. He’s a beast,'” Shivers said. “They’ve just got to just watch. I take a lot of pride in that.”