Tough-luck Skov brothers already looking foward to next seasonBy Mark Soltau November 23, 2011, 3:53 pm
You won’t hear any complaining from Shayne and Patrick Skov on Thanksgiving Day. Not that anyone would blame them. They wouldn’t be human if they didn’t wonder what could have been this weekend when the fourth-ranked Stanford football team closes out its regular season against No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
Shayne, a 6-foot-4, 243-pound junior inside linebacker, was leading the team in tackles and on his way to an All-American season when he seriously injured his left knee against Arizona in the third game. The emotional leader of the defense, Skov suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and was lost for the year.
Younger brother Patrick, a 6-foot-1, 234-pound true freshman linebacker who is redshirting, was a valuable member of the scout team until last week when he broke his leg in practice. Both will spend the holidays on crutches.
“The Skov family hasn’t had the best year,” Shayne said Tuesday, forcing a smile.
Their mother, Terri, a former San Francisco firefighter, is battling multiple sclerosis and resides in an assisted living facility in Emeryville.
“They’re resilient and they’re fighters,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football/Head Coach.
Shayne credits his family, fans, and teammates for keeping his spirits up.
“The most encouraging thing is the little kids that come up to you,” he said. “I remember being that little kid. It’s kind of amazing to me and really gratifying.”
Cardinal players have been with him every step of the way since he hurt his knee on a fluke play in Arizona Stadium when Wildcat receiver Juron Criner crashed into him while being tackled. Several players have worn heavy lamp black under their eyes as a tribute; others have written No. 11 on their arms.
“I wouldn’t say it has been easy,” Shayne said. “I’ve been really fortunate to have teammates around who have visited and checked up on me. My family and the Stanford community as a whole have done a great job. Any time you get down, there’s always someone there to pick you up.”
Not that Shayne has sought sympathy. Even before his surgery, he immediately began helping backups Jarek Lancaster and A.J. Tarpley as much as he could. Shayne watched film with them, attended meetings, and has provided pointers from the sideline during games.
“I try and do as much as I can,” said Shayne. “Anything I can teach those guys that will maybe translate to a tackle for loss or a critical play on game day is a success.”
Lancaster is very appreciative.
“Shayne is one of those guys who always sees the silver lining in everything he does,” Lancaster said. “Yeah, it’s a terrible situation he found himself in this year with so much promise, but he didn’t let it slow him down at all. As soon as he could, he was back in our meeting room making sure us as younger players knew exactly what we were looking at. It’s been tremendously helpful just having him on our sideline and being in our corner.”
It hasn’t been an easy transition, although Stanford’s 10-1 record has eased some of the pain.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it,” Shayne said. “I love the game so much, it’s weird not being able to go out there and be able to do something about it. It’s definitely easier when we’re winning.”
Shayne doesn’t take it easy on Lancaster, a redshirt junior, or Tarpley, a redshirt sophomore.
“We watch so much film together,” said Lancaster. “It’s more mandatory with him than it is with our coaches sometimes. He wants the best for us and the team. He’s really passionate and makes sure there’s no letdown.”
Shayne is proud of what Lancaster and Tarpley have accomplished in his absence. Lancaster leads the team with 57 tackles—six for losses—while Tarpley ranks third with 51 tackles and recovered a fumble in the end zone to seal the overtime victory against USC.
“They’ve done a great job,” said Shayne. “A few people might have been a bit skeptical about our depth, but when you look at it now, Max (Bergen), Jarek, and A.J. are all playing at a fairly high level. The growth that they’ve had over the course of the season has been very positive to see.”
Shayne has committed to returning to Stanford next year to play football and finish his degree in management science and engineering. Had the season gone differently, he might have been lured by the NFL Draft.
“I’m definitely coming back to Stanford,” he said “I’ve got to finish business and graduate. I want to put in the best four years of work before I decide anything else.”
Shayne hopes to start running by early to mid-summer and expects to be ready for fall training camp. Shaw has no doubts he will be.
“The thing I talked to Shayne about is in order for him to be in the right frame of mind, he’s got to know what I expect of him,” said Shaw. “I told him I don’t expect you to get healthy, I expect you to get ready to dominate. We’ve got to get him mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to step back on that field and be a dominating force for us.”
Shaw also expects Patrick to make a big contribution next season.
“I know he’s going to come back 100 percent and be ready to take the Pac-12 by storm,” he said.
Despite the tough luck for Shayne and Patrick, Lancaster admits there have been some lighter moments in the last week. It’s part of the football bond.
“It’s been a little rough one for the Skov family,” he said. “Both crutching into meetings and stuff together. It’s a funny sight to see. But there’s so much love for that guy (Shayne), it overwhelms him sometimes."