Elite OL TJ Shanahan Jr. breaks down ‘amazing’ Georgia official and ‘indescribable’ feeling on visit
Want the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This has the latest with TJ Shanahan Jr. of Austin-Westlake High in Texas. He’s the nation’s No. 7 IOL and the No. 140 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite. Rivals.com has him as a 5-star as the nation’s No. 1 OG. On3.com has him as the No. 90 overall prospect.
There is a lot to cover regarding Texas OL prospect TJ Shanahan Jr. and what he might bring to Georgia.
We’ll cover how he felt about the ‘Dawgs heading into the visit (pretty good) and coming out (even better) of an impactful official.
Yet with that, the heavy bet is the DawgNation reader will recall four impressive things for a young man who stacks 310 pounds onto a hostile 6-foot-5 frame. They will not be about offers or rankings.
- The 5-star OG (per Rivals.com) will jump rope 2,000 times every night. Two. thousand. Every. Night.
- Shanahan approximated there were 10-15 times per game last fall when he blocked his man 10-to-20 yards downfield. He played for a state championship team in the largest class (6A) in Texas.
- “One thing I do,” he said. “Ever since I started my first football game is I say a little prayer. Whether it is in my head or I get down on one knee. I always make sure I say a little prayer and talk to God before I play a football game. Just ask him to watch over me, my teammates and just say for him to let the best team win.”
- “You never want to get caught on film taking a play off or being soft,” he said. “I take that to heart. Even before I got to Westlake, it would be the death of me if someone pulled up a play of me and I was kind of ‘BS-ing’ it or whatever. I feel like one thing is I just like to go full speed 110 percent every play until I hear the echo of the whistle. That’s what stuck with me ever since I started playing.”
There are rankings and projections. Then there is the ability to continually force one’s will on the opponent. It is possible through years of preparation to be at one’s best when their best is required.
The Bulldogs can always use a player like that on their front. Shanahan was the only OL in town this weekend. He got a lot of face time with offensive line coach Stacy Searels and his assistant Eddie Gordon.
The most fun he ever had playing football was in his freshman year.
“I drove a kid down like 35 or 40 yards down the field,” he said. “I landed on top of him and I just remember him saying ‘Bro come on are you serious? You’ve got me out here looking bad’ and I’m like ‘I just have to do my job out here man’ with that.”
That’s the first time he did anything like that. It was not the last.
“I will never forget that,” Shanahan Jr. said.
The background on TJ Shanahan Jr.
His mother, Mele Shanahan, is 100 percent Polynesian. His father, Timothy James, played offensive line in college for Arizona. He was a center and long snapper for the Wildcats.
His Dad was also a pitcher and a basketball player. TJ said there are a bunch of newspaper clippings at his Grandmother’s house highlighting his Dad throwing no-hitters coming up.
“He definitely knows more about playing than a lot of other Dads,” he said. “But he holds me to a higher expectation. Doing jump ropes every night and just working hard. It has never been less than that. I definitely owe it all to my Dad and my older brother Michael.”
Michael is now playing at Texas Tech. TJ saw him jumping rope at night. That has been his thing ever since.
It fuels his dream.
“Just to be able to sit in the room with my family and just them all knowing that I made it,” he said. “That’s kind of what I look for at the end of the day. Being able to provide for both my parents and the rest of my family and all my siblings. Kind of the joy I would get from doing just that is why I do what I do.”
“As soon as a step on that football field, it is like a switch. I turn that switch on for me and just want to go hard every play.”
Most schools project him to play guard. Some bring up tackle. Nobody sees him as a center. Yet.
“One thing I pitch to every college coach that has been recruiting me is being versatile,” he said. “I feel like I can play all five positions from the left side to the right side to center. I feel I can do that as well as anyone in the country.”
“I think that’s a good thing to have to go into college. Just because some guys kind of limit themselves to just playing left tackle and shooting themselves in the foot. They go to a school and they have a sophomore All-American at left tackle. They are going to be sitting on the bench for two years. I feel like being versatile, especially at the next level, is going to be a big thing for my game.”
Shanahan played both right guard and right tackle last year. Look for him to slide to left tackle this fall.
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How did TJ Shanahan feel about Georgia before the OV?
Shanahan gave a glowing review of his official from this weekend. It will flow down the page. Yet prior to that, check out this sampling of pre-OV quotes about the Bulldogs:
- “The overall vibe about Georgia was really cool from my previous visits. I could really see myself living there. For sure.”
- “It is just the people there that stand out. The people inside their football program. I mean, I could name off 10 guys I really like within their program. The people they have running the ship there is really cool to see.”
- “They are such a great program. They have a lot of great success in the past.”
- “Georgia produces guys. They had a lot of guys go in the draft on the offensive line the past few years and a lot of people in general on their team go in the draft. That stands out to me. They had how many guys, 15, drafted this year?”
- “You are around players that are going to go to the NFL. Just being a young buck or maybe being the same age as those guys, I think, being around a lot of players that all have that same mindset is really cool.”
- That’s the big thing about playing in the SEC. I’ve always been leaning toward playing in the SEC. That’s kind of where all the big ‘Dawgs go.”
- “I could definitely see myself in Athens. Enrolled and everything. They are definitely one of my top schools. For sure.”
- “I feel like a lot of things fit with me at Georgia. Like a lot.”
What is he looking for?
“Just a strong relationship with the offensive line coach,” he said. “I feel like that is going to be big for me. One big thing my brothers have always told me is you are going to be spending 90 to 95 percent of your time with the offensive line coach. That’s why that relationship means so much to me.”
“Also then the scenery of the campus and how the dorms look. I feel that is also pretty important. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be living there for three or four or five years. You definitely want to go somewhere you feel comfortable.”
Shanahan has played football for five years. He’s been playing pickup basketball since he was three or four years old. He is not the designated fouler.
“I’m the guy who gets the ball at the three-point line and drives it in,” he said. “I try to get that and-1 on the play.”
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TJ Shanahan Jr: The OV recap
Count Shanahan among the all-white uniform party. That list is quite long and distinguished.
What is his favorite Georgia uniform combo?
“I’d have to go with the all-whites,” he said. “It was really cool to put that on. Just to be a part of that. I would definitely say the all-whites for sure.”
But he’s a little old school with his appreciation for the red jersey.
“I like the red jersey but I don’t know,” he said. “There was something about putting on the all-white jersey that was really appealing to me.”
Could he describe his OV in one word?
“That is a really tough question,” he said. “Amazing. I would say amazing. It was everything. I felt a lot of love during the visit. There were a lot of people there and a bunch of highly-rated recruits and I feel more than loved at Georgia. I would definitely say amazing for sure.”
Did the ‘Dawgs elevate his appreciation of their program?
“For sure,” he said. “I definitely would say they did. Just the love I felt from the whole coaching staff was just outstanding. The things they had set up with everything. I definitely spent a lot of time with [offensive line] Coach [Stacy] Searels. Probably the whole weekend he was right by my hip. Just talking to me. Having conversations and also coach Eddie Gordon and coach [Devonte] Danzy. His two assistants. They were definitely by me a lot and I got to chat it up with coach [Kirby] Smart and coach [Dell] McGee. I definitely felt a lot of love from the whole coaching staff.”
His favorite part was his time with Georgia’s not-so-new offensive line coach.
“Sitting down with Coach Searles and watching some of my film that he recorded during my spring practice,” Shanahan said. “Just to be able to sit down and be critiqued by Coach Searles. He’s definitely super knowledgable when it comes to all the offensive line positions.”
“That was probably my favorite part, but also definitely talking to coach Smart and having little conversations with the whole coaching staff here and there was also great.”
Searels convinced TJ he could make him better.
“For sure he could,” Shanahan said. “He could do a really good job of that and develop me to be the best person I can be off the field and the best player on the field. Sitting in his meeting room and just listening to him and how he coaches his players kind of just made me want to be a part of that. He’s very knowledgable when it comes to offensive linemen and he’s definitely the type of guy I could see myself playing under.”
Shanahan was at UGA for G-Day in April. That’s when he linked up with Justice Haynes and others and started to plan this past weekend. He was also at UGA last June. That’s when he first met Arch Manning.
He’s seen Texas A&M four or five times. He’s also been to Texas twice.
“Just because it is so close,” he said of the Aggies.
The Dell McGee connection with TJ Shanahan Jr.
Shanahan repeatedly mentioned McGee. He goes back a long way there. McGee first offered him when he was at Timber Creek in Orlando.
He moved to Westlake in Texas to take his game to the next level. Westlake has won three straight UIL titles and played for it all 11 times in its history.
“Coach McGee was a big part of my recruitment for the first couple of months after I was offered by Georgia and he is still definitely a big part of me getting recruited by Georgia,” Shanahan said. “I would also say he definitely wants to show love to the guys up front that make his guys look good. I definitely felt that this weekend and the whole time I’ve been getting recruited by Georgia.”
What does he like best about Georgia now?
“Seeing how they operate,” he said. “Seeing that officially this weekend was amazing. They had everything set up. I think there were 14 or 13 recruits there this past weekend. They had everything set up and on point which was amazing. I would say everyone felt the love this weekend. The people they have on their staff are another thing as well. They have a bunch of good people. Obviously a bunch of good football coaches. But just good people. People you would want to be around.”
Georgia has never hosted that many official visitors at one time.
“I believe Coach Smart told me the most they ever had before was like eight or nine,” Shanahan Jr. said. “10 at the most. One thing he definitely did say about this whole weekend was about how this was probably the best official visit class they have ever had come in during his whole time at Georgia.”
“So that kind of meant a lot to me and I bet it meant a lot to all the other recruits that were there this weekend.”
He was impressed by “The Georgia Way” program. It is an outlet designed to help Bulldogs past, present and future get a step ahead in the working world when their playing days are up.
“That kind of meant a lot to me,” he said. “Mrs. Lee really did a great job with that. I felt like that was one of the coolest presentations I’ve ever seen.”
There was an example of a player from the 1980s who used the program to connect to a potential employer.
“The Georgia Way” made that happen.
“That was a cool part of the visit for me,” Shanahan Jr. said. “Probably one of the coolest.”
That program was not lost on his family either.
The next steps for TJ Shanahan Jr.
Shanahan felt momentum plays a big part in a weekend like that one at Georgia. It is one thing for an individual recruit to warm to a school on a visit, it is another to see the same happening with six or seven or eight other guys on the same visit.
Inertia hits. They start sensing if everyone on the visit chose the same school, they will have one heck of a team.
“For sure,” he said. “With that being said, there were a bunch of really good recruits there and that takes place one thousand percent. Blocking for a guy like Arch Manning. Blocking for a guy like Justice Haynes. I mean it is indescribable if we could make that happen. I am definitely going to have a lot of conversations with those guys from this point and just kind of see how things shake out.”
He brought up Georgia football staffer Mike Cavan. Cavan played QB at Georgia, then recruited a fella named Herchel Walker as an assistant. He has been a special assistant to Smart since 2016.
Cavan was also the head coach at SMU, among other stops.
“He was a big part of my weekend,” Shanahan Jr. said. “Being able to sit down with him and talk about everything going on. He was with me a lot so I got a lot of insight and love from him.”
Shanahan has scheduled two other officials. Texas A&M will be on the weekend of the 17th. He will take another official visit to LSU on June 24.
Georgia set a lofty benchmark for those schools to reach.
“I would say they set it high,” Shanahan Jr. said. “Or at the highest. I mean the people they have there. The way they operate and even the players that they have now there. It is just - I don’t know really - it really is something.”
He will take two summer classes to graduate in December and enroll at one lucky school in January.
Shanahan is also thinking about two more officials in the fall and a decision after that. But nothing is set.
“I will know when I know and then I will announce it to the whole world,” he said. “I would like to take all five of my officials before I make any sort of commitment to any school.”
Check out his impressive junior film below:
(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
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