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April 30, 2008
Rider's Beaver makes commitment
Beaver decides to play football at Michigan
Shavodrick Beaver grew up a fan of the Texas Longhorns, but his family will soon be stocking up on the maize and blue worn by the Michigan Wolverines.
Beaver, a junior at Rider High School, committed to play football at the University of Michigan and new head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez runs a spread offense with a lot of option running plays as he helped West Virginia gain national recognition before taking the job at Michigan.
Furl Beaver, the reigning Red River 22 MVP, has proven to be a dual threat quarterback in a spread offense at Rider. In his two seasons as the starting quarter, the Raiders have advanced to the Region I-4A finals both times.
Beaver passed for 2,602 yards and 31 touchdowns and rushed for 454 yards and five scores as a junior.
"I've been thinking about it for a long time and it's a big opportunity for me," Beaver said of his decision. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance."
Rider coach Scott Ponder took the news as an endorsement of Beaver's talent.
"They put out a national search to find a guy they want to run their offense," Ponder said. "It's pretty exciting. We're real fired up for him. They're running an offense where they're looking for a mobile athletic quarterback. I anticipate that he will be good."
Ponder has already seen Beaver improve year by year at Rider.
"He continues to get better and mature and I expect huge things out of him this season," Ponder said. "I'll be surprised if he doesn't have a huge season."
Beaver has similar plans.
"The whole offseason I was getting recruited very heavily and I'm glad I got it over with so I can focus on my senior season and winning a state championship at Rider," Beaver said. "The coaching staff and Rider players, we've got a goal we're trying to reach."
Giving up on the dream of being a Longhorn "wasn't that hard," he said. "I understand that they've got their quarterbacks. This was a big opportunity. I like the zone read and the way they throw the ball downfield vertically.
"The coaching staff at Michigan wasn't pressuring me. Ever since they offered, I was thinking someone had to beat out Michigan. And no one did. All the others treated me like I was Tom Brady. Michigan was letting me scout them and I feel comfortable about it. My mom was real happy."
The verbal commitment is non-binding, but when Beaver joins the Wolverines he will be joining a tradition-rich program that plays its home games at 107,501-seat Michigan Stadium, widely known as "The Big House."
Michigan set the NCAA single-game attendance record with 112,118 at the 2003 contest with Ohio State. The Big 10 Conference also started the Big 10 Network to cover most games that are not on a major TV network, making it easier for his friends to follow his career, even from a distance.
Beaver is the third Rider junior to commit to a Division I program, following receiver Eric Ward (Oklahoma) and running back Jurell Thompson (Texas Christian).
"It's a blessing to have a lot of talent around me," Beaver said.
He realizes he had some help in getting to this point.
"I just want to thank God. It's a blessing. I want to thank my mom for staying on my tail about grades and my coaches for helping me stay focused throughout my high school career. They made sure I was practicing and working hard."
Andy Newberry, Sports writer, Wichita Falls Times Record News