IMPACT PLAYER 2015: Natchez’s Herrington adds weight, looks to play multiple positions
Published 12:03 am Sunday, August 16, 2015
NATCHEZ — Shavoke Herrington made his mark at Natchez High School as an eighth grader in baseball, earning the tagline “best player on the team” by his head coach at the time, Brian Kossum.
Herrington improved upon his young Natchez Bulldog legacy by leading the team with eight interceptions (second in MHSAA Class 5A) as a freshman safety in 2014.
So how has Herrington been preparing to top his freshman season in the secondary? By eating, of course.
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“Hey, I want, well need, to get bigger,” Herrington said. “I’ve been eating a little bit of cornbread. You know how your grandma does it.”
Natchez defensive coordinator Dan Smith, who is also the head baseball coach, decided to move Herrington from cornerback to safety last season. The decision obviously paid off with multiple turnovers.
“I relate it to baseball,” Smith said. “If he can catch a small white ball in the air, I know he can catch a big brown ball. He can actually be the leader on defense and call the defenses.”
The now 5’9”, 162-pound safety, thanks to grandma’s cornbread, was concerned about the move early on. With reason, as Herrington was only 150 pounds playing high school varsity football for the first time in his life.
“I didn’t expect to do that coming up from eighth grade,” Herrington said. “I actually wanted to play corner. Then they moved me to safety, and I was like, ‘I’m too little to play this.’ But then they told me to just cover ground.”
Herrington’s athleticism has now opened the door for more opportunities. As well as playing safety, Herrington will get reps at wide receiver, and return punts and kicks for the Bulldogs.
Getting Herrington more involved on both sides of the ball was a no-brainer for the coaching staff.
“A lot of things he can do, you really can’t teach it,” Smith said. “It’s like Sidney Davis, and what he used to do. You would just shake your head like, ‘Wow.’ Sidney took Shavoke under his wing last year, and that helped him mature.”
Maturing into a leader is something Smith wants to see from Herrington. As a freshman, nobody expected him to lead by example, as he was trying to find his rhythm in a district that forced him to defend much larger athletes. Going into his sophomore season, though, Smith wants Herrington to call the plays from his safety position and communicate with his defense.
And if the offseason is any indicator of how Herrington has matured, staying with the team after former head coach Melvin Pete is a good sign for the Bulldogs.
“We decided to stay because we’re a family,” Herrington said. “It hurt us to lose our coach, because we were just starting to really bond with him. But whatever happens, you have to stay with your family.”
Whether Herrington is undercutting a route or running by an opposing defensive back in 2015, Herrington wants to be a human highlight reel for the Bulldogs, much like he was in 2014.
“I try to make spectacular plays,” Herrington said.