As Eye on The U's countdown of the Top 60 players at UM continues, we've decided to skip ahead to the middle of the pack and take a look at No. 30: Canes cornerback Sam Shields, who moves over to defense after spending his first three years at UM as a receiver.
> What we heard about him on Signing Day '06: A consensus Top 30 national receiver, it was big news when Shields picked UM over Florida and LSU. The former standout at Sarasota Booker caught 67 passes for 1,201 yards and 22 touchdowns his senior year to lead Booker to the Class 3A crown.
> What he's done as a Cane: His freshman year at UM began oh-so promising as he started seven games and caught 37 passes for 501 yards and three scores (the most balls caught by a freshman since Reggie Wayne in 1997). It's been all downhill for Shields since then. He was suspended for a few games a sophomore and caught just 27 passes before hauling in just 11 last year. Other than his big third down catch at Virginia, he basically disappeared behind the incoming freshman before finally getting moved to corner by coach Randy Shannon in the spring.
> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: While Shannon has said he expects Shields to play considerably, Eye On The U expects that to mean on special teams. Shields, a flier on punt returns, can be special in that capacity because of his team-leading 4.20 speed in the 40-yard dash. But understanding coverages is a whole different ball of wax. Although he had one pass deflection in the spring, it's likely going to take Shields all season to adjust more complex passing schemes. If he plays corner, it will likely only be in the event of injury or in dime situations.