Living up to your father’s NFL legacy could scare away someone from ever picking up a football.
This isn’t close to true for former Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler and his son Navy, who is beginning to make a name for himself in high school.
Navy Shuler plays for Christ School in Arden, N.C., where his dad is the running backs coach. He’s only a sophomore, but is already starting to grab the attention of college coaches, including his dad’s alma mater. Navy has taken unofficial visits to Tennessee and North Carolina.
“I told the Tennessee coaches, don’t recruit him because he’s my son. Do it because he’s good,” Heath Shuler said in an interview with David Thompson. “He’s so young, he’s going to grow and get stronger. But it’s his mental aptitude that I think has excited college coaches.”
Navy is listed as a 6-foot-1, 195-pound quarterback and wears a size-14 shoe. His high school team has a 6-0 record with an eye toward a state championship.
Navy’s mental prowess of the game can be traced back to his father.
“It’s nice to have someone like that look at your film and help you break down plays,” Navy said of his father. “But he’s still my dad. At the dinner table, we don’t really talk football. We just talk about our days.”
Heath wants Navy to focus on himself and forge his own path. Comparing accolades to his father could be a losing battle for a while.
Heath started two seasons for the Vols in 1992 and 1993. He finished his college career with 4,089 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. The 1993 season went so well that he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward.
“I’ve always told Navy that he has to focus on Navy and not the past or what I did in my career,” Heath said. “All I can do is give him some insight on how to lead, and I see how he acts on the field and the credit he gives to his teammates. He’s on his way to making a name for himself.”
Heath Shuler also played four seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints before retiring because of a foot injury.
Navy has a long road ahead of him to ever be compared to his dad. He’s doing pretty good so far, though.