Tem­ple’s Ship­pen makes most of big chance

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS -

an SEC op­po­nent since 1938.

In that mo­ment, Ship­pen grabbed his first ca­reer re­cep­tion and touch­down at the same time.

“When I caught it,” Ship­pen said, “I saw the cor­ner fall be­hind me and the safety kind of jump it, so I had a bit of a head start on them. I saw all green grass from there and just ran as fast as I could.

“It was a good feel­ing and it went by fast, but it was heart­warm­ing.”

That might be the best way to put it, be­cause a lot has changed for Ship­pen in a rel­a­tively short amount of time.

At this time last sea­son, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Ship­pen was a lit­tle-used de­fen­sive back who was play­ing mostly on spe­cial teams. That’s how he spent most of his first two sea­sons at Tem­ple. But when Tem­ple coach Matt Rhule and his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mar­cus Sat­ter­field talked to the ju­nior about switch­ing to wide re­ceiver prior to spring drills, Ship­pen saw it Bran­don Ship­pen as an op­por­tu­nity, even though he had never played the po­si­tion be­fore.

“I had caught a cou­ple of pass­ing touch­downs com­ing out of the back­field or in the slot when I was at Nor­ris­town,” Ship­pen said, “but I was never a wide­out. They told me they wanted to try me on of­fense and I con­sid­ered it and then just took it and ran with it.”

That, he did. Ship­pen started last Thurs­day night and caught two passes for a game-high 60 yards. Grab­bing that pass on a gutsy fourth-down call set the tone for a Tem­ple team that was

look­ing to get off to a good start and wash away the mem­ory of a frus­trat­ing 2-10 sea­son in 2013. And Ship­pen’s emer­gence has been crit­i­cally im­por­tant for an Owls of­fense that had to re­place a dy­namic re­ceiver in Robby An­der­son, who was dis­missed from the univer­sity fol­low­ing the sea­son due to aca­demics.

“We’re look­ing at it like we have a lot of ca­pa­ble re­ceivers that can make plays and we have a great quar­ter­back in P.J.,” Ship­pen said. “So I just made the play when my time came and I want to keep do­ing that.”

Ship­pen, whose Owls are look­ing to im­prove to 2-0 when they host Navy Satur­day at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field, feels for­tu­nate to be play­ing with a trio of fel­low Nor­ris­town prod­ucts in se­nior cor­ner­back An­thony Robey, ju­nior de­fen­sive back Ikeem Boyd and fresh­man tight end Kip Pat­ton.

“We all grew up in the same neigh­bor­hood,” Ship­pen said, “so it’s great to be with peo­ple you’ve been around all your life and played with in high school and be able to just con­tinue play­ing with them. We’ve all got a great bond and it means a lot for us to be do­ing well for Nor­ris­town.”

Ship­pen earned PIAA Class AAAA all-state hon­ors as a se­nior while play­ing for for­mer Nor­ris­town coach E.J. Smith, but prior to that went through his en­tire ju­nior sea­son with­out get­ting a sin­gle Di­vi­sion I schol­ar­ship of­fer. Pro­grams like Pitt, Rut­gers and UConn showed some in­ter­est, but none of them of­fered.

All the while, Ship­pen stayed in touch with Robey and fol­lowed his ca­reer at Tem­ple.

“I saw how good Tem­ple was to him,” Ship­pen said. “So I sent out my ju­nior film, Tem­ple came call­ing and that’s how it hap­pened. So I wouldn’t say he was telling me I had to go there, but he did show me what Tem­ple was about and that meant a lot.”

Ship­pen at­tended a Tem­ple one-day foot­ball camp in June of 2011, got an of­fer from the Owls and took it.

“I just re­ally loved Tem­ple and they just showed me so much love that I couldn’t re­ally go any­where else,” Ship­pen said. “There was no sense in wait­ing on other of­fers. And be­ing able to be close to home is with it.”

Sign­ing with Tem­ple af­forded Ship­pen the op­por­tu­nity to be close to his fam­ily, which in­cludes four brothers — Vonte Ship­pen (23), Devin Bowsky (19), Dars Bowsky (13), and Joshua Bowsky (10) — and two sis­ters — Nya Ship­pen (12) and Liyah Bowsky (11).

“They’ll all be there Satur­day when we play Navy,” Ship­pen said.

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