By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
During a photo shoot with Ashton Shumpert last week, a wind gust nearly blew over a light stand. It never hit the ground because Shumpert grabbed it.
Sort of like Superman catching a bullet in his teeth.
Football reflexes like that earned him nearly 1,800 yards this season and 25 touchdowns for Itawamba AHS.
Shumpert is the Daily Journal’s Offensive Player of the Year.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound four-star running back/safety was out for the first three games of the season and still managed 1,796 yards on 153 carries.
He learned while sidelined.
“I got to see stuff I wouldn’t have seen if I was playing,” Shumpert said. “I got to see the sideline view.”
Most of his work came in less than three quarters of play for the 12-1 Indians. He also shared the backfield with 1,400-yard back Charles Moore.
Shumpert played at IAHS as a freshman and transferred to Tupelo for two seasons. He played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and has all but narrowed his 10 college scholarship offers to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, with Vanderbilt and Georgia the first two looking in.
‘THE COMPLETE BACK’
“He catches well out of the backfield and tries to block well. He’s the complete back,” said Mississippi All-Stars coach Junior Graham, who coached Shumpert for a week in Montgomery.
Shumpert was also named Gatorade Mississippi Player of the Year, Division 1-4A Player of the Year and First Team All-State.
Graham said he wasn’t hesitant to put Shumpert in the defensive backfield and that may be where he plays in the SEC.
He had a team-second 5.8 tackles per game this season and said watching from the sidelines in August taught him more on that side of the ball. He definitely knows how to defend good defense. In Montgomery, he bounced off Auburn’s Reuben Foster, the nation’s top linebacker prospect, for a 14-yard gain.
Before the Journal photo shoot last week, assistant coach Michael Campbell asked Shumpert about his position in college.
“Coach Campbell asked me that a while ago and I said ‘Defense,’ but I don’t know. I really don’t know,” Shumpert said.