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June 24, 2010It's been an eventful last month for one of the state of Alabama's best for the 2012 class.
Prattville (Ala.) defensive tackle Justin Shanks has performed well at two big camps recently, and picked up his first big time offer from Auburn two weeks ago at their first Senior Mini Camp.
"I did very well, I only lost one out of ten one-on-one's, had a good forty time, good shuttle," Shanks said. "That was my first big camp this year, I had a big camp my sophomore year as well. My goal was to do my best and get an offer. I know they were looking at me hard, and they wanted to see me put in the work."
Receiving the offer from Auburn was something Shanks took as a big compliment.
"I felt like it was a sense of accomplishment, a compliment really," Shanks said about receiving the Auburn offer. "The camp helped me out some, helped me improve."
The 6-foot-3, 272-pound defensive tackle credits his persistence and hard work at the camp to catching Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker's eye, and helping him ultimately land the offer from head coach Gene Chizik.
"I kept trying to get more reps and more reps, and coach Rocker pulled me aside and talked to me a little bit," Shanks said. "Then I got to stay after and talk to coach Chizik a bit."
Shanks said he liked what he saw on the field being coached by Rocker and appreciates his conversations off the field as well, where everything isn't always about football.
"He's real cool, calm person," Shanks said. "He'll work you to death, but it's all good. He has a good personality. When we talk, we don't talk too much football, we just talk about what I need to do leading up to my senior year, and academics wise."
Shanks wasn't done though, as he was back in Auburn last weekend for the MVP camp, where once again, Shanks proved his worth.
"It went well," Shanks said. "I won the MVP for top overall underclassman. I should have won the defensive line award, but they gave it to a senior who's get off was...wow. I ended up beating the top offensive lineman for my award."
Shanks is already seeing plenty of interest from Auburn and Alabama early on. He says he's also been hearing from Florida State more as well. While he's getting plenty of interest early on, Shanks says he'd like to keep his options open as the process goes on.
"I grew up an Alabama fan," Shanks said. "I'm keeping my options open though, there might be something better than Alabama, you never know."
Even though Shanks has plenty of time to make his decision, there are a few factors he's paying attention to regarding the schools he may be interested in.
"I'm looking at when I can get on the field, if I'll have to switch positions to offensive line, stuff like that," Shanks said. "There have been some that think they could try me out at offensive line, but I'm more of a defensive person."
Shanks projects as a defensive tackle at the next level, but says there are a few schools looking at him as a defensive end also.
Once Shanks finishes his summer camp circuit, he plans to get his focus squarely back on his upcoming junior season at Prattville.
The Lions are winners of three of the last four 6A state championships in Alabama, coming up short last season in the title game to Hoover. Shanks says their goal every year at Prattville is to win the state championship.
"Anything less than a state championship is a failure," Shanks said. "I think we'll have a more disciplined team than last year, we'll be good. The way last year ended left a bad taste in our mouth."
Shanks says he plans to make camps at Alabama and Florida State before the summer ends, and possibly LSU.