Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily
Former Austin and Ole Miss star D.T. Shackelford works with campers at the Jeremiah Castille Character Camp at Austin High on Friday.
Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2015 12:00 am
By David Elwell Sports Writer |
If there had been a popularity contest at the Austin High football field Friday morning, there’s no doubt who would have won.
After the first session of the Jeremiah Castille Character Camp ended with lunch, the campers from the Boys and Girls Club of Morgan County and Decatur Youth Services were yelling “D.T., D.T.” when it was time for photos.
Everybody wanted to be in a photo with former Austin all-state football player D.T. Shackelford.
Some of them even wanted to pose doing the “Landshark” gesture with an open hand and the thumb touching the forehead to symbolize shark fins. Shackelford and his teammates on defense at Ole Miss made the “Landshark” famous in 2014.
“Since the season ended I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and working with youth at camps like this,” Shackelford said. “I could do this all day. It’s a lot of fun.”
Central Park Baptist Church sponsored the camp that ended Saturday. Castille brings some coaches with him to work the camp. He asked Central Park to find some more. One of the first camp coordinator Ken Bush contacted was Shackelford.
It was evident that being back home in Decatur and on the practice field at his old school was special for the 2009 Austin graduate.
“This is always going to be a special place,” Shackelford said. “I have so many memories. Austin and Ole Miss made me the man I am today. There are so many people to thank.”
One person on that list is Austin assistant football coach Mitchell Knox. Ask Knox about Shackelford and a big smile appears.
“You can look up the word courage in the dictionary and there will be a picture of D.T. Shackelford,” Knox said. “He went through all kind of adversity to become one of the best linebackers in the SEC. On top of that, he’s an even better person.
“D.T. is a success story that our young people need to know about. He’s someone that Austin High School and this community should be proud.”
Shackelford starred at Ole Miss as a freshman and sophomore. A knee injury sidelined him his third year. He reinjured the same knee and missed his fourth season. He returned in 2013 with 44 tackles in 12 games. He was third on the team in tackles in 2014 with 63.
The Ole Miss defense played a huge part in the school’s best season since the 1960s. The Rebels finished 9-4 and ranked No. 17 in the country. They opened the season with seven straight wins, including a 23-17 victory over Alabama, and were ranked as high as No. 3.