After last football season, Cal Poly quarterback Doug Shumway was ready to go into his final year of eligibility backing up fellow fifth-year senior Andre Broadous.
Then came the idea of Shumway becoming a slot receiver.
The coaches “came to me with it,” Shumway said. “It’s something that I always thought I could do, but I never thought they were on the same page thinking that maybe I could do it, too.
“It’s my 15th year of football. If I’ve got one year left, I’m going to try and do as much as I can with it. So, if they want me to do anything, I’m up for it. Why not? I just want to get on the field and try and make an impact as a player this year.”
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Receiving? Blocking? The 6-foot, 190-pound former Agoura High standout is showing coaches he can do both, even with a twice-broken, non-throwing left hand. Still wearing the black jersey of a quarterback, Shumway has been spending most of his time learning the position away from under center.
“We’re playing him there,” Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh said. “He’s going to play some, and putting two quarterbacks on the field can be a nightmare for an opponent as well.
“He’s still the number two quarterback and the other guys are battling or three. Doug is in year five in this type of an offense, and he’s so smart and so cerebral that we don’t need to push his reps at quarterback. We need to push his technique reps at the other positions because technique-wise, he’s got to get better to be the player that we want him to be.”
Shumway’s broken hand is one of more than two dozen training camp injuries that are limiting Cal Poly players but aren’t serious enough to rule many out for the Sept. 1 season-opener against visiting San Diego.
Shumway has been playing with a mound of protective padding on his left hand. Others have been held out from participating. A handful of defensive linemen and half of the starting defensive backfield were not suited up for Wednesday’s practice, the last one of the week in full pads.
Walsh pushed a new emphasis of limiting contact for proven players at the start of fall camp, hoping there would be fewer devastating injuries early on. The impact on the team’s preparedness won’t be known until kickoff but the injuries have not been severe.
“There’s bruises,” Walsh said. “There’s a couple sprains in there, but right now, I would expect everybody to be able to participate” against the Toreros.
Shumway first broke his hand early on in spring drills, when he got his pinkie caught in the jersey of a defender while blocking from the slot. That sidelined him for nearly the entire offseason but helped teach him about the science of blocking.
“It’s so much more than being physical,” Shumway said. “It’s not just like if you’re tough, then you can block. It’s all about feet and leverage and being in the right angles. But I’m getting better at that, and I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable.”
He was back to 100 percent when, five days into fall camp, Shumway slammed his knuckle into a defender’s knee. This break, just below his index finger, was less severe, and he’s been playing hurt for almost a month.
That toughness is one of the attributes that has endeared Shumway to so many of his teammates. One of the most popular players on the team, Shumway was also a coaches’ selection for team captain.
“He’s the hardest worker on our team,” said Broadous, who has competed with Shumway since the two were redshirting scout quarterbacks in 2008, “and you have to respect the hardest worker no matter what position he plays, no matter what depth he is. He comes first in a lot of drills, and he has a lot of guys’ respect, including me.”
Though he hasn’t spent much time on the field, Shumway made a name for himself in a 35-33 2010 upset of top-ranked Montana, against which he was 3-for-3 passing for 128 yards and two touchdowns in relief of injured starter Tony Smith.
Shumway started just one more game before giving way to Broadous, but he’s gained as much or more admiration for his time spent off the field.
“He’s that guy that is just friends with everyone,” junior defensive tackle Sullivan Grosz said. “You go to a party, and he’s always the light of the conversation. He’s always fun, and he brings a great spirit around him. That’s what I always admire about Doug.”