Local talent Shawn Underwood garnering attention from Duke


Shawn Underwood is a 6’1½” 320-pound junior defensive tackle from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Shawn has impressed college coaches with his combination of size and athleticism, posting a 4.97 second 40-yard dash, a 26.2 inch vertical leap, and completing 29 reps of 185 pounds at a spring combine. On the field, Shawn is quick getting off the line and uses his hands well. Heading into his senior year, Shawn is working on “being a leader and getting better with my technique. I’m always trying to better myself, there’s always more to learn.” Off the field, Shawn is a self-described laid-back guy. “I’m a jokester. If I’m not having fun, I’m not happy,” he said.

As he approaches his college decision, Shawn is looking for a good atmosphere on campus and would prefer to attend a “football school.” Academics are important to Shawn as well, and he’s particularly interest in math in high school, but is undecided on a college major. Playing time is not a big concern for Shawn, as he intends to work hard and earn his opportunities. “If the coaches have confidence in me, then I should be out there; if not, then I shouldn’t be out there and I have to work harder.” In particular, Shawn prefers a coach who is “on you all the time, constantly making you get better.”

Offers keep coming in for the big junior lineman, including all five FBS programs in North Carolina, along with Penn State, South Carolina, and New Mexico. So far, Shawn has been able to visit all five of the in-state schools, and three of them have stood out to him.

At Wake Forest, he “really liked the coaching staff” and also noted that his parents were also really impressed with the staff on his visit. “That’s really important to me,” he said. North Carolina State has also stood out to Shawn, as he has clicked with defensive line coach Keith Willis from day one. “We’re basically on a first-name basis, there’s nothing we can’t talk about,” Shawn said about Coach Willis. Lastly, Shawn is high on UNC, though he admittedly hasn’t had much interaction with the coaching staff. Shawn grew up a North Carolina fan, and “that’s probably why they’re so high up right now,” but he will be attending a camp at UNC this Saturday.

Shawn has also visited East Carolina, where he was impressed with their program’s emphasis on “caring about the whole person, both on and off the field.” As for Duke, Shawn really liked his visit, but wasn’t able to really sit down and talk with the coaching staff, as he visited for a basketball game.

Shawn has had to “keep pushing the date back” for his decision, as more schools from out of state have started to show interest. He hopes to narrow his list down and make official visits in the fall, with the hopes of having a final decision on signing day or a little before.