Last season, the Auburn Tigers were a heartbeat away from advancing to the College Football Playoff. They defeated their archrival Alabama Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl 26-14, largely as a result of effective running from Kerryon Johnson (30 carries, 104 yards).
But Johnson injured his shoulder during the game, limiting his ability in the subsequent SEC Championship Game. As a result, the Tigers only put up 145 yards of total offence, compared to the Georgia Bulldogs’ 421 yards, losing the game 28-7 and an opportunity to compete in the CFP Semifinals.
Auburn would lose Kerryon Johnson to the NFL draft this year, meaning their offence would need to re-define itself away from run-heavy plays to a mixture of run and pass.
If you look up the word ‘athlete’ in the dictionary, chances are you will find Jashawn Sheffield’s name beside it. Born in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Sheffield grew up eager to become a professional football player one day.
He would attend Frederica Academy, one of the signature high schools in the state of Georgia, playing as both a running back and wide receiver. In his three years playing for the school, Jashawn would rack up 1778 rushing yards, averaging eight yards a game. He would also total 784 receiving yards and tally 30 total touchdowns on the ground and in the air.
As a result of his versatile play, Sheffield would be a top 10 recruit from the state of Georgia. At 6’2, 180 pounds and running a 40-yard dash at 4.5 seconds, demonstrates not only his athleticism but also his speed to be an effective offensive and defensive player in the NCAA.
The young athlete received many offers but it was looking like the choice was coming down to either Auburn or Tennessee. But on June 23rd, Sheffield committed to play for the Auburn Tigers the upcoming season.
“The first time I came here, I was very happy to be here,” Sheffield said. “I felt like I was home, I didn’t even want to go home when I got here. This is it. This is over with. This is my home.”
As a wide receiver, Jashawn displays an effortless ability to jump for high balls. His speed will allow him to run past opponents on the post route. For a school that was ranked 53rd in pass offence (225.8 yards/game), having Sheffield play at wide receiver will give coach Gus Malzahn options by utilizing quarterback Jarrett Stidham a higher percentage of the time.
But reports are signalling that Sheffield may play on the defensive side for the Tigers as a safety. Given his size, he would be a very physical defensive back, not afraid to take a hit and go after the ball to create takeaways.
The young athlete is not the only Frederica Academy graduate to commit to Auburn for the upcoming season. 4-star cornerback Jaylin Simpson committed to Auburn in April, strengthening a pass defence that was 27th in the country last season (177.8 yards/game) and 68th in terms of takeaways (1.5 per game).
“We knew we wanted to play together the whole time,” Sheffield told reporters Saturday. “We had a feeling it was going to work out like that. We didn’t want to stop playing together.”
Regardless of which side of the ball Sheffield plays, he will make an immediate impact for a Tigers squad that is knocking on the door for a College Football Playoff appearance.