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League gets early introduction to Gaels rookie Jason Shamatutu

September 6, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Indeed, Jason Shamatutu confessed, he’s had his welcome-to-university-football moment.

“Yeah,” he said sheepishly. “I did.”

It came early in the third quarter of last Monday’s football game at Windsor, when the Lancers’ fifth-year all-star receiver, Evan Pszczonak beat him for a 40-yard touchdown.

As it turned out, it didn’t take long for the league to have its welcome-to-Jason-Shamatutu moment.

That came in the fourth quarter, with about two minutes to play in the game. The Queen’s Golden Gaels were nursing a nine-point lead and Windsor’s veteran quarterback, Austin Kennedy, had just moved his team 44 yards in three plays, to the Gaels’ 52-yard line.

On the fourth play of the drive Kennedy threw to the sideline to his left and Shamatutu stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass.

Essentially that clinched the victory for Queen’s. The Lancers needed two scores to win and by the time they got the ball back, there was less than a minute to play and, realistically, not enough time to do so.

Amends made.

“A lot of people thought when Andrew Lue left, boy, we’re never going to get a DB who looks like him,” Gaels coach Pat Sheahan said, referring to the departed all-Canadian now playing in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes.

Clearly, what the coach sees in Shamatutu’s future makes the lesson-learning bumps along the way worth it.

“I knew coming in they were going to be good, but the players are really good,” said Shamatutu, reflecting on his intercollegiate baptism.

“He did kind of a shady route and I took half a second off,” he said. “He took off and I was a step behind (the rest of the way).

“It was not a good feeling but I’ve moved on from that: you learn never to lose focus during the play. Always pay attention.”

It didn’t take long for Shamatutu to pass his first test after Pszczonak took him to school. This time the defender prevailed.

“I was looking at the quarterback and looking at the receiver,” he said. “I read the receiver. I jumped the ball.”

Though his team was wracked by graduations from the defensive secondary—besides Lue, Matt Webster, T.J. Chase-Dunawa and Justin Baronaitis also graduated—Sheahan said it wasn’t mere necessity that led the Gaels to start Shamatutu in the first game of his freshman season—at the demanding position of corner, no less. “He’s earned his starting spot,” Sheahan said. “He’s been a great addition.”

Shamatutu comes to Queen’s from Port Coquitlam, B.C.

“I’ve been making annual visits to Terry Fox Secondary in Port Coquitlam for years now,” Sheahan said of a school that, in addition to the Marathon of Hope runner himself, has produced CFL players Bret Anderson, Sandy Beveridge, Chris Szarka and Jamall Lee.

“The coach there always said one day he’d have a player for us.”

Sheahan said Shamatutu was a force, both on the playing field and in the classroom. “He wanted to be part of a winning program but he also wanted an academic challenge,” Sheahan said.

Having narrowed his focus to Queen’s and the University of British Columbia, Shamatutu committed to Queen’s last winter, relatively early in the recruiting season.

“I ultimately chose here because Queen’s is known internationally for its academics,” he said. The football team’s reputation wasn’t shabby, either.

“A lot of the coaches and people I talked to said people have (often) said, ‘I wish I’d gone to Queen’s,’ but anyone who came to Queen’s has never said, ‘I wish I went somewhere else.’”

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