Had another quarterback not showed up at Cox Mill High last year, Shawn Fitzsimonds might not be in the enviable position he’s in today.Fitzsimonds was slated to be the Chargers quarterback until experienced transfer Kelly Hall reported to Cox Mill last offseason. So Fitzsimonds was moved to middle linebacker and there, he developed into one of the Chargers’ leading tacklers.With the stats to back him up, Fitzsimonds is hoping that college recruiters will take notice.But if he doesn’t get to play collegiately, he’s sure going to have fun trying to get there.This summer, the rising senior is traveling across North Carolina and as far as Foxboro, Mass., trying to get himself in front of the right people. He will be attending college camps and privately-operated combines to do so.Terrence Gittens is an assistant football coach at Cox Mill, serving under former coach Greg Neuendorf and new coach Craig Stewart. Gittens also is the school’s assistant athletic director for college recruiting and works with Cox Mill Athletic Director Brian Knab to help student-athletes explore their collegiate options.Among the summer opportunities that Gittens made Fitzsimonds aware of was the Blue-Grey Combine, which hosts a dozen regional events around the country. Two other Cox Mill rising seniors, defensive back James Dees and linebacker/tight end Brian Jernigan, attended the Carolina Combine on May 11 at Greensboro’s Proehlific Park.Players were separated by position, and sometimes combined with another position, to test their speed, strength and agility as well as to perform drills. Players were timed in the 40-yard dash and the shuttle run, and measured in the bench press, standing broad jump and vertical jump.“I was towards the top in pretty much everything,” Fitzsimonds said. “I feel the shuttle run was my best. I beat some defensive backs, which was pretty good.”Out of 21 linebackers, the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Fitzsimonds finished tied for third in the bench press and tied for seventh in the shuttle run. He tied for tenth in both the 40-yard dash and vertical jump.Three weeks later, Fitzsimonds received a letter from the Blue-Grey Combine staff saying he qualified to attend one of its two national events. On June 8-9, Fitzsimonds was at the Dana Farber Fieldhouse, which is the New England Patriots’ indoor practice facility adjacent to Gillette Stadium.At the Foxboro combine, Fitzsimonds was tested in the same events as the regional combine and he improved in each category. Additionally, players participated in a 7-on-7 scrimmage and conducted a video interview. In mid-September, players will find out if they are invited to participate in Blue-Grey National All-Star Classic game on Jan. 11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.Football kept Fitzsimonds busy throughout June. On June 16, he attended a camp at Appalachian State; June 22 he was at Elon. On June 24-26, Fitzsimonds participated in the Blue Chip Football camp at Mars Hill.Gittens said Fitzsimonds is receiving attention from some Division II and III colleges. Last season, he finished with 67 tackles even though he missed two games at linebacker when he was filling in for Hall at quarterback.Stewart, who was Hickory Ridge’s offensive coordinator last year and took over the Chargers last month, says Fitzsimonds was one of the Cox Mill players he needed to pay attention to.“He seemed like a really good player,” said Stewart. “He was one we wanted to keep an eye on and someone we wanted to get a blocker on.”
Tuesday, Jul. 02, 2013
Rising Cox Mill senior keeps reaching toward dreams
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at email@example.com.
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