North Carolina RB eyeing Arkansas

By: Richard Davenport Richard Davenport's Twitter account
Published: Friday, September 21, 2018
Arkansas receivers coach Justin Stepp works with receiver Tyson Morris on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Fayetteville.
( Ben Goff)
Arkansas receivers coach Justin Stepp works with receiver Tyson Morris on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in Fayetteville.

One of the better sophomore prospects on the east coast has found it easy to communicate with University of Arkansas receivers coach Justin Stepp.

Running back Will Shipley, 5-11, 185 pounds, of Matthews (N.C.) Weddington, received a scholarship offer from Stepp on July 24 to go along with ones he has from North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Duke and others.

"He's really cool," Shipley said of Stepp. "I really like him. We engaged in a conversation for 20 minutes and it was just natural, which is always promising."

Duke was the first school to offer him near the end of his ninth-grade year. He said he appreciates Stepp focusing on other things besides football.

"Life isn't all about football," Shipley said. "To me that a coach wants to talk and learn more about you other than football ... that's really engaging just because he realizes what it's really all about and that's really important to me."

Shipley's speed and athleticism jump off his video. He had several impressive 40-yard dash times at college camps over the summer.

"I ran a multiple 4.41's at camps this year," Shipley said. "I never got below a 4.41. My [slowest] was a 4.47 at N.C. State."

His athletic ability comes from both parents. His father played college basketball at a sampler school before transferring to North Carolina State and giving up the sport, while his mother played soccer for the Wolfpack.

Shipley's mother was able to compete against soccer icon Mia Hamm, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, and two-time World Cup champion, in college.

"She was a very, very good athlete in college and in high school," Shipley said of his mother. "She actually got to play against Mia Hamm in two Final Fours."

As a freshman, Shipley rushed 109 times for 690 yards and 5 touchdowns. In four games this season, he has rushed 41 times for 262 yards, 5 touchdowns. He also has 12 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown, and he also completed a pass for a score. He has 16 tackles, an interception and 3 pass breakups as a defensive back.

Shipley has a 4.27 grade point average and is looking to major in business in college.

He said he's confident Arkansas Coach Chad Morris' background of being an offensive coordinator at Tulsa and Clemson will have the Hogs on the right path.

"I've heard great things about their new head coach," said Shipley, who's averaging 30 yards per kickoff return. "He was at SMU and turned that program around. Everywhere he's been I'm pretty sure he's brought a positive attitude to it and really improved the program."

He said he looks forward to staying in touch with Stepp and making his way to Fayetteville.

"Maybe get down there for a game or maybe go on an unofficial visit and get to meet all of the coaches or get to a camp next summer," Shipley said.

Shipley's versatility will allow colleges to play him at multiple positions, but it appears Stepp wants him in his receivers meeting room.

"I think he likes me as a slot," Shipley said.

Young picks Vandy

Bentonville West linebacker/defensive end Kendall Young orally committed to Vanderbilt on Thursday afternoon.

Young, 6-5, 220, narrowed his list to Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Missouri before choosing the Commodores.

Email Richard Davenport at

Sports on 09/21/2018


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