Every season that Tyler Shipman has been a member of the Buford Wolves football team he's played in a state championship. The Buford, Georgia native is a member of the Georgia AAA football power which has appeared in seven straight state championships, losing only in Shipman's freshman year.
Getting players from winning cultures such as Buford's is an important part of building a college football team. Players such as Shipman know how to win, know what it takes to win and can help lay a foundation for their new team. So when Shipman gave a verbal commitment to Akron last week it was a good sign for a program on the rise.
"I knew that they've struggled in the past couple years...," Shipman told Hustle Belt. "But from what I've seen and what the coaches have told me, that team has the talent to challenge for a MAC Championship."
Shipman chose the Zips over offers from Gardner Webb and Wofford, but was receiving interest from several other schools, including Georgia Southern and Kent State, before committing to the Zips following his visit to Akron.
The Zips offered him a day after his birthday, and little more than a month later he knew the Zips were his team.
"It felt like it was home to me. I felt very comfortable with the coaches and so did my dad."
The coaching staff, Shipman says, was one of the top reasons he committed to Akron, after academics and a good fit with teammates.
"I can say I have a Bowden as my head coach," Shipman added. "[Head coach Terry] Bowden is a guy I feel is going to be there for a while because he's already been through all that. He's been through the SEC....It was a really good feeling knowing that a coach like that was going to be there for all four of my years."
The 6-foot-1 240 pound soon-to-be high school senior was recruited to the Zips as a future defensive tackle. The coaching staff has told him their plans are to bulk him up to 275 pounds and have him play as a 3-technique, while also potentially getting some reps on offense as the fullback in goal line stands. Shipman currently plays both ways for Buford high in a similar setup.
But for now, according to Shipman, the coaches have told him to not worry about gaining weight and just focus on having an outstanding senior season.
"Right now, for me I just got to play, have a great senior year, help my team win a third straight state championship," Shipman said.