He doesn’t have any scholarship offers yet, but his high school coach thinks the Ivy League might be a perfect fit.
Randy Shannon Jr., senior and starting middle linebacker at Coral Reef High, wants to go to Harvard or Yale. Then, he says, he wants to become a defensive coordinator — and beat his dad at coaching.
“I’ll go anywhere in college football that gives me an opportunity,” the 5-9, 210-pound hard-hitting linebacker said Saturday at the Dolphins High School Football Media Day event at Nova Southeastern University.
“I want to create my own path. I don’t want people to say I got this or that because of my dad.”
Shannon Jr., who boasts a 3.7 GPA and scored a 24 on the ACT, might not want any preferential treatment when it comes to his future. But he definitely loves and admires his father, who has bounced around in college football since he was fired as head coach of the University of Miami in 2010 and now serves as associate head coach of the Florida Gators.
Randy Jr. is the spitting image of his dad — from the matching skinny mustache to wearing the same No. 22 jersey his father donned as a UM linebacker from 1985 to 1988.
Shannon Jr. said he asked for No. 22 before his junior year to honor his dad. He ended up leading a 2-8 Cudas squad with 77 tackles.
Shannon Jr. has bigger plans for this season. He wants to lead Coral Reef to only its third playoff appearance ever and first since 2011.
The Cudas have a good shot at doing that after being moved up from District 16-8A alongside traditional powers Southridge, South Dade and Killian to District 15-8A, where the level of competition is more on par with the talent on their roster. Both Belen and Southwest, last year’s playoff teams from District 15-8A, should challenge Coral Reef for the top two spots.
“Our defense is all about attitude and Randy controls the crazies so-to-speak,” first-year coach Javier Valdes said. “We want to make sure we’re not thinking too much on defense and let kids who have been playing for a long time just play football. Randy calls the defense, lines everyone up and makes sure that happens.”
Valdes, who went 14-7 in two seasons at Hialeah Mater Academy and made the playoffs last fall, said his middle linebacker will without question be a coach down the road. Valdes said he already told Shannon Jr. there’s a spot on his staff for him when his playing days are over.
“He’s a kid that’s always trying to do something to get better,” Valdes said. “He’s always dying to get in on one-on-one pass rush or seven-on-seven drills. He’s always pushing his teammates to watch film with him. He’s irreplaceable.”
Shannon Jr. said his senior schedule includes AP Calculus, AP Enviromental Science, AP Literature, Finance, Honors U.S. History and Office Aide. If he doesn’t coach down the road, Shannon Jr. said he would like to become a sports commentator.
His older brother Xavier Shannon, who played for their father at UM in 2008 as the starting center, is an academic adviser for the women’s basketball, cross country and track and field teams at the University of South Carolina.
Like his older brother, Randy Jr. said he didn’t see his father a lot while growing up because of the demands of coaching. But he said his father always made time to come see him after practice and after games, even when he was exhausted.
“I never really spent a lot of time around UM when I was kid because my dad wanted me at home studying, focusing on school,” Randy Jr. said. “It was good and bad at the same time having a dad who was the head coach. Whenever UM won or lost there were critiques.”
But that’s all ancient history now.
Randy Jr. is ready to get his own career going — playing and then coaching.
“I just love football,” he said.
District 15-8A overview
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Harvey Clayton, Coral Reef: The 6-2, 180-pound Clayton will be utilized on both sides of the ball, his coach said. He ran for 110 yards and a touchdown in a 14-7 spring game win over Edison and had 63 tackles and an interception at safety last season. Clayton has offers from Illinois, Louisville, Temple, FIU, Fordham, Alcorn State and Middle Tennessee State.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
C.J. McWilliams, Southwest: The 5-11, 161-pound cornerback and University of Florida commitment racked up 125 tackles and an interception last season. He also had 19 catches for 461 yards and four scores and will once again be used all over the field for the Eagles.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Coral Reef; 2. Belen; 3. Southwest; 4. Ferguson; 5. Varela; 6. Braddock.
Sept. 25: Belen-Columbus (FIU); Oct. 2: Southwest at Belen; Oct. 16: Coral Reef-Southwest (Southridge); Oct. 30: Belen-Coral Reef (Southridge).