Lurry leads nation in picks after “OK” year

By Patrick Smith

The Huskies only boast a 3-3 record at this point in the season; however, one bright spot has been the play of sophomore cornerback Shawun Lurry, who not only leads the team with six interceptions, but leads the entire FBS.

Lurry, a true sophomore from West Palm Beach, Fla., said it wasn’t a hard decision to play football because he “grew up in a football state.”

“It was good growing up in West Palm Beach,” Lurry said. “You know, being able to go to the beach every weekend, just being in the sun. And the weather was great. Looking at my older brothers play, also watching my cousins play and my uncle teaching me since I was little. I just liked it.”

Lurry was a three-time state honoree at William T. Dwyer High School. He caught eight touchdowns in his sophomore year in high school as a receiver, ran for eight punt return touchdowns his senior year and had nine interceptions, two of which came in a title game.

Lurry said he decided to attend NIU despite fielding offers from different universities in the south because it “gave him a chance.”

“I felt that NIU was the best place for me to go,” Lurry said. “My grades were bad, and I got my grades up at the last minute so they gave me an opportunity.” Lurry said he believes he “did OK” on the field in his freshman year, but knew there were adjustments he needed to make in order to improve his playing time. He picked up 14 tackles and one pass deflection in 13 games.

“I had to get my technique better,” Lurry said. “Getting better at watching film and just knowing the game better. Going out there, doing what I have to do. I was on a lot of special teams and a played cornerback sometimes, but that helped me grow as a player. I’m just going out there and making plays. When teams throw the ball at me, I just have to execute and attack the ball before the receiver attacks the ball.”

Head coach Rod Carey said he thinks being in the program for a year has truly taught Lurry how to prepare for his role. Shawun is now having a breakout sophomore campaign, and teammates are noticing his improved play.

“Coming in as a receiver, he has great ball skills,” said senior safety Marlon Moore, who plays behind Lurry in the secondary. “His play-making impact on defense is great because of that.”

Lurry is just one interception away from tying for third-place on the Huskies’ single-season interception list. Dan Meyer holds second place with eight in 1965, and Al Jones holds the number one spot with 10 interceptions in the 1951 season.

“He has a great nose for the ball,” Carey said. “He’s really learning how to prepare, and his preparation is leading to good results in the game.”

Lurry was named the Jim Thorpe Player of the Week after a game against No. 1 ranked Ohio State in which he picked off two passes.

“It felt good for that week,” Lurry said. “I wasn’t happy that we lost that week, but it felt good to be recognized.”

Moore, who has four career interceptions in three-and-a-half seasons with the Huskies, said Lurry’s impact is important because he’s currently one of the team’s top play-makers.

“We depend on everyone to make plays,” Moore said. “But he’s making the most and we are proud of that.”

The Huskies got back into the win column last week, defeating Ball State 59-41 at home after a tough stretch of games, and have been working hard in practices to avoid any more slumps throughout the season.

“We just have to have a better practice week in and week out,” Lurry said. “We have to have a good defensive and offensive practice so we can be better prepared for the games.”

Outside of the field, Lurry said he is deciding which direction to go for a major. He said he was in the business program, but dropped it and is currently undecided.

NIU will go head-to-head this week against Miami (Ohio) at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Oxford, Ohio.