Sam Shields: Poised to break out

By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006


IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Safety Kenny Phillips has called the freshman from Sarasota Booker a "superstar." Shields will likely get considerable playing time at the Orange Bowl against rival FSU.

PERFECT SEVEN: Shields took advantage of his opportunities as soon as they came, wowing teammates by scoring seven touchdowns in his first seven practices.

"Sam is a very gifted athlete," receivers coach Marques Mosely said. "And the thing about Sam is, when you have a gifted athlete who has a lot of confidence, it's scary. Sam has a lot of confidence."

FOCUSED: "You really can't go out there and beat a cornerback like in high school by just running back for the pass and catching it," Shields said. "You have to learn a lot of techniques, and I'm still learning them."

MULTIPLE ABILITIES: Shields, who possesses 4.39 speed in the 40, has impressed with his ability to get behind Miami's fast, talented secondary. His leaping ability has been on display since Day 1. Coach Larry Coker has used Shields to return kickoffs and punts, which he likely will do at least part time when the season starts.

- MICHAEL SNYDER, Times correspondent