Ray Shipman Interview
Sr / Central Florida / LB

Updated - 4-2-13

By: Alex Khvatov


Alex Khvatov:  What are your measurements (height, weight and forty time)?

Ray Shipman:  They have me listed at 6’4, 242.  My best time is a 4.6.  I run that on a consistent basis.                  


Alex Khvatov:  When you were coming out of high school, what programs showed interest in you? 

Ray Shipman:  I don’t know if you know my full story.  I was coming out of high school and I was recruited by basketball programs.  I was recruited by almost everyone.  I narrowed it down to Florida, Florida State, Kansas State and Georgia Tech. 


Alex Khvatov:  What made you choose the Florida Gators?

Ray Shipman:  They had just won two National Championships.  It was close to home.  My family could come to all of the games.  It seemed like a perfect fit.  I had just won Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year in Florida.


Alex Khvatov:  Did you like playing for Billy Donovan?

Ray Shipman:  I didn’t enjoy playing for him because the style of play didn’t fit me.  I had fun learning from Coach Donovan.  He is a great coach.  Every coach has a different style of play.  I just didn’t fit into the scheme of things.  I have all of the respect for him. 


Alex Khvatov:  Why did you decide to play football instead of basketball after that?

Ray Shipman:  I got frustrated my sophomore year at Florida.  I felt like things would happen differently for me there.  I felt like they would use me differently.  I thought that they would use my strengths to help the team.  I wanted to start playing basketball again.  I took some visits.  Basketball schools recruited me.  But it just wasn’t fitting right with me.  It was hard for me to make the decision.  I was sitting at home and thought that I wanted to try something different like football.  Football was always my first love.  


Alex Khvatov:  Why did you transfer to Central Florida?

Ray Shipman:  LSU showed interest in me because my high school coach made a few phone calls.  He was my receivers’ coach in high school.  But my former football coach got me set up.  He became the athletics director at my high school while I was in Florida.  I spoke to him when I went back home.  He still had contacts of schools that were looking at me when I was playing football my freshman year of high school.  I only played one year of football.  He called Coach Kelly.  Coach Kelly was at Duke my freshman year of high school.  I told him that I wanted to go back and play football.  He said that he would come and see me.  He told me that he wasn’t at Duke anymore, but at Central Florida.  That was even better because it was close to home.  My cousin was on the team.  I didn’t have to work out.  They saw me and gave me a scholarship.  That was a blessing. 


Alex Khvatov:  Did you start playing LB right away for them?

Ray Shipman:  In high school, I played safety and receiver.  I was only about 205 or 210 pounds after I finished playing basketball.  I had to sit out a year.  At first, I was at safety.  I was on the scout team for the entire year.  When the next spring came around, I got to about 230.  They put me at LB, and I have been there ever since.                     


Alex Khvatov:  Describe your senior season to us from a team and individual standpoint. 

Ray Shipman:  The first year that I sat out, we had a great year.  We had a double digit win season and we beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.  I sat out that year, but I was a part of it.  My senior year was great.  I was a part of a double digit team.  It felt great because I was more a part of it.  I was a starter my senior year.  We had a great camaraderie on the team this season. 


Alex Khvatov:  Why didn’t you play in the bowl game against Ball State?

Ray Shipman:  I had a really bad stinger.  I missed a few games before that bowl game.  It was a stinger and a really bad case of it.  It just needed to heal before I played again.  Now I am healthy. 


Alex Khvatov:  How gratifying was it to see your team go out there and win convincingly against Ball State in the bowl game? 

Ray Shipman:  It felt good.  It was kind of painful to not be able to play, but I got over it.  I was trying to help the younger guys learn the game plan during the preparation period.  I felt like I was a part of that win too. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your strengths?

Ray Shipman:  I feel like I cover a lot of ground.  I shed blocks pretty well.  I stop the run well.  Overall, I am working on my weaknesses and trying to become a better all-around player. 


Alex Khvatov:  What areas of your game are you trying to improve upon?   

Ray Shipman:  Like I said, I have improved in all aspects of my game.  I am trying to work on every aspect.  I don’t think that I have one weakness which stands out.  I need to work on everything.  I feel like I can stop the run well, but I want to stop it great.  I feel like I can cover well, but I want to cover great. 


Alex Khvatov:  What did you enjoy the most about playing college football?

Ray Shipman:  I would say the team.  In basketball, you only have 12 people on the team.  You have so many guys on the football team.  It was great to be a part of something so big.  I enjoyed the camaraderie. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is the highlight of your career?

Ray Shipman:  The highlight for me was making First Team All-Academic.  My sophomore year at Florida, I was a scholar athlete of the year for the whole SEC.  I was so stressed out about football when I chose to play it again.  I was always watching film.  My parents were telling that your grades still need to be good.  It was great when I was able to understand football better.  But my grades never declined.  They got even better.  My senior year, I was on All-Conference Academic Team. 


Alex Khvatov:  How important is education to you?

Ray Shipman:  Education is very important.  My mom is actually a teacher, and my dad is a police officer.  They have always been preaching education to me.  Football doesn’t last that long.  You always need to have a back-up plan.  When I went to UCF, I took advantage of it because I had an extra year.  I was able to get my degree before my senior year.  I was able to start on my master’s degree.  I plan on going back and finishing that.  Education is really big to me. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your major?

Ray Shipman:  I got my bachelor’s degree in communication and I got a minor in business.  I started my master’s in corporate communications. 


Alex Khvatov:  What do you plan to do with your life after your football career is over?  

Ray Shipman:  I don’t have the exact set plan because my communications major is so broad.  I can see myself working in school as the athletic director.  I always wanted to be the athletic director. 


Alex Khvatov:  How will you respond to teams that will point to your inexperience as a football player? 

Ray Shipman:  My rawness is actually my advantage.  I haven’t picked up too many bad habits.  Bad habits tend to happen over a long period of time.  I am new to it.  I have been able to do things at a high level on a football field this year.  I will keep going up from this point on. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who is your favorite NFL player?

Ray Shipman:  I have always rooted for Ray Lewis. 


Alex Khvatov:  What was it about Ray Lewis that appealed to you?

Ray Shipman:  His athletic ability stands out.  He makes a lot of plays.  He has huge faith in God.  He is not afraid to let that out.  He is always praising God.  You have to have faith.  I took a leap from basketball to football.  A lot of people told me that I am dumb.  They told me that I am good at basketball.  You haven’t played football.  You will be on the bench.  I had faith.  That was big for me.  Ray Lewis quotes have always stuck with me. 


Alex Khvatov:  Ray, what is your definition of a leader?

Ray Shipman:  A guy that does all of the right things.  A leader can lead by example.  He can lead vocally.  You don’t have to be the best on the team in order to be a leader.  If he is doing the right things, people will look towards you. 


Alex Khvatov:  What are your hobbies?

Ray Shipman:  I love fishing.  It is my main hobby.  I just started learning how to cook.


Alex Khvatov:  What makes you a unique individual?

Ray Shipman:  I am a huge momma’s boy.  Many people don’t know that. 


Alex Khvatov:  Which underclassmen on your team should we keep an eye on in the future?

Ray Shipman:  Terrance Plummer.  He was a middle linebacker this past year.  He finished with a few more tackles than me.  He was only a sophomore.  I expect big things out of him next year.  


Alex Khvatov:  Where are you currently training for the NFL Draft?

Ray Shipman:  I am training at Cooper Strength in Tampa.  I am just trying to get faster.  I am eating healthier.  I am getting stronger. 


Alex Khvatov:  What is your training regimen like right now?  Take us into your daily routine.

Ray Shipman:  I train two times a day.  We start at 10 in the morning.  We train for two hours.  Then we report back at 2:30.  We go Monday and Tuesday.  Then on Wednesday, we only have one training session.  We go back to two a days on Thursday and Friday.  Then on Saturday, we have one workout. 


Alex Khvatov:  Who are you training with?

Ray Shipman:  Nate Palmer from Illinois State, Don Jones from Arkansas State and Earl Okine from the University of Florida.


Alex Khvatov:  Finish the sentence, Ray Shipman is …?

Ray Shipman:  Intelligent, humble, determined individual, passionate about football, God and his family.    


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