Prolific fullback Shannon taking speed to McMurry
By Lauren Jette
For all the outstanding stats Liberty Hill senior fullback Jon Shannon put up for the Panthers over the last two seasons, it would be understandable if he had a tough time choosing his greatest accomplishment from options such as amassing more than 2,000 yards as a junior, leading the Panthers to the state semifinals, or scoring 19 touchdowns with 1,399 yards this season.
Interestingly enough, Shannon chose none of those highlights.
“I guess just doing well as a team player and helping this team go a long way the past two years,” he said.
“Beating Burnet my junior year, that has to be my favorite memory,” he added.
“Once that last buzzer sounded, we were all celebrating and that was probably one of my favorite memories.”
After starring for the Panthers, Shannon signed his letter of intent to continue his career at McMurry University in Abilene last week.
“I really like their campus and the coaches really clicked with me. It just felt right, it was kind of like I was home again,” Shannon said of his decision to sign with the War Hawks.
“They really care about the academics there and I liked how small the classes were, so it wouldn’t be big classes, so I could get one-on-one time with the teacher.”
Shannon said he plans on majoring in psychology so he can continue his other passion of helping children.
“I want to be a psychologist for little kids,” he said. “I just love helping little kids. Right now, I mentor and I like meeting little kids and helping them.”
When he first tried football in seventh grade, Shannon fell in love with the game and his position.
“My mom asked me what sports did I want to play that year and I said I’ll try football and track and ever since I started playing I just loved the sport,” Shannon said.
“I knew it was something I wanted to do after high school.
“I’d always wanted to be a running back because I thought I was fast and I actually learned I was fast and it just worked out for me,” he added.
The best part of those Friday night lights for Shannon was hearing his name over the speakers of the stadium every game.
“I love getting my name called. Hearing my name, that’s a big up,” Shannon said. “Just the intensity of it, I love the running back position.”
After being used in the fullback position for head coach Jerry Vance’s Slot-T offense, Shannon will have to learn a slightly different offense and position for McMurry.
“I’m being moved to like a half-back, so they touch the ball more. A fullback in that offense is different from a fullback in Liberty Hill’s offense. It’s going to be different,” Shannon said.
As a junior, Shannon surprised many by rushing for over 2,000 yards in his first season on varsity. This year, Shannon’s goal was to reach 2,500 yards, but a wrist injury that required surgery sidelined him for three games towards the end of district play.
“Sitting on the sidelines, watching my team play without me was a little upsetting,” Shannon said.
“I was pretty upset that I couldn’t play. I guess the upside was that I came back in three weeks because that is pretty rare because I broke the worst possible bone in my wrist and getting surgery was the best possible option. I was lucky, but I was still upset that I couldn’t play.”
While the season fell short of his goals, Shannon is grateful for the opportunity he had to play in the purple and gold and optimistic for the Panthers’ future success on the football field.
“I’m glad I could leave my legacy behind. I think the guy behind me, Justin Burkett, will do a good job next year. I want him to do as good as me or better.”
Will Burkett be able to fill the footsteps left by Shannon?
“Easy. He stepped up while I was gone, like I wasn’t even there,” Shannon said. “He’ll be good.”
While the offseason has been a nice break from the field, Shannon is ready to get back to the sport.
“I feel like all my hard work paid off here, now I can move on to better things and I’m just pretty excited for it.”
While Shannon’s legacy will not fade from Panthers fans’ memories any time soon, he will be missed.
“Jon did a wonderful job for us. The fullback position in our offense is vital to our success. Jon played that position about as well as anyone we have had,” said head coach Jerry Vance. “(Jon was a) tough runner, hard to bring down, and faster than a lot of people thought he was. He played with honor, dignity and never backed down. We will miss Jon.”