|Joplin looking to have big senior year (8-28-13)|
|Written by By JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 28 August 2013 08:51|
There has never been any question about Shaun Joplin’s athletic ability.
Called a ‘freak athlete’ by his teammate and roommate Matt Schilz, Joplin was a first-team All-Ohio football player on a state championship team, a basketball standout, and an All-Ohio track athlete who high jumped 6-feet-10 and had a 22-7 effort in the long jump at the state meet, while attending Sylvania Southview High School.
Joplin decided to pursue football in college, and he’s starting his final season with the Bowling Green State University Falcons Thursday. Bowling Green hosts Tulsa with kickoff at 7 p.m. in Perry Stadium.
Schilz met Joplin in the dorm during their freshmen year in 2009-10 when Joplin would come into the room shared by Schilz and current BG tight end Alex Bayer to play video games.
‘‘Everyone knows how athletic he is; he’s a freak,’’ Schilz said. ‘‘There is no one else on the team as athletic as him and who has the most potential.’’
And while Joplin has had his moments, including scoring a touchdown in four of BG’s final six games in 2012, he has to be a threat every game this fall.
‘‘He’s got to have the best year that he’s ever had for us,’’ BG head coach Dave Clawson said about the 6-foot-2, 209 pound, wide receiver. ‘‘Shaun, over the course of his career here, has certainly had flashes.
‘‘The knock on him probably is that he hasn’t done it constantly, and we hope this is the year it all comes together.’’
For his career, Joplin has made 62 receptions for 742 yards and five touchdowns. He had a breakout season in 2012 with 40 catches for 639 yards and four scores.
‘‘My coaches know I have the potential to be better than I have been for the last two years,’’ Joplin said. ‘‘I need to be harder on myself than I am right now. What I had last year was unacceptable. I want to show them I am a better player than that.’’
Schilz, BG’s starting quarterback, believes Joplin can be a difference-maker.
‘‘I think he’s going to take his game to the next level this year,’’ said Schilz. ‘‘He’s been more focused, and he really understands things; I’m really excited to see him (play) this year.
‘‘He’s come so far, and I really think he’s starting to get it this year,’’ Schilz continued. ‘‘He’s starting to focus a lot more on what he needs to do, and he’s becoming a leadership guy with those receivers. I think he’s grown a lot in those ways.’’
His coaches and teammates say it’s difficult to get mad at Joplin, because he’s a nice guy.
‘‘He is such a good person. He is one of those guys who frustrates you. It’s so hard to get mad at him, because he’s such a good-natured kid,’’ Clawson said.
‘‘I think he stole one of my frozen pizzas the other day and I couldn’t believe it,’’ Schilz said. ‘‘I said ‘What are you doing?’ and he just started laughing. It’s hard to get mad at him because he is always just so nice, so funny, and a really cool guy.’’
For his part, Joplin said he was taught never to lie, with a smile on his face, when asked about the missing pizza.
It wasn’t certain that Joplin would play college football, until his father, Stan, was relieved of his duties as head men’s basketball coach at the University of Toledo.
‘‘As soon as coach (Warren) Ruggiero saw that happen, I’m pretty sure that’s when Bowling Green started talking to me a lot,’’ Joplin said. Ruggiero is BG’s offensive coordinator.
‘‘I know my best sport was probably track,’’ Joplin said. ‘‘But, when I had a good football season, I figured I would do football after playing for my dad did not work out.’’
Joplin picked Bowling Green, despite the fact the rest of his family attended Toledo.
‘‘I love Bowling Green, and I love playing for this coaching staff,’’ Joplin said. ‘‘Now my goal is to win a MAC championship, since my dad wasn’t able to.’’
In addition to winning a MAC title and a bowl game, Joplin is hoping to have a 1,000-yard receiving season. Only six times in BGSU history, by five different players, has there been a 1,000-yard receiver.
‘‘I want to show the coaches what I am made of this year, since it’s my final year,’’ Joplin said.
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