In two years at Weddington High School, Will Shipley has won five state championships.
“Luck has been spread my way,” said Shipley, the centerpiece of the Warriors’ 2019 football team and the first five-star football recruit in Union County history. “Just to be put in this program and have the leaders ahead of me that taught me what winning looks like, and for me to be able to carry that on, it means the world.”
Shipley, a rising junior, has been on two lacrosse state championship teams and two more in track, where he holds the school’s 55-meter dash record.
Last December, he was a big part of Weddington’s 27-14 win over Southeast Guilford in the N.C. 3AA football championship game. In the final, Shipley caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from his brother, James, who was named championship MVP.
James Shipley is gone to play lacrosse in the Ivy League at Pennsylvania. So this is Will’s team now, and he’ll try to get Weddington to its fourth state final in six years.
He says he’s ready.
A year ago, Will Shipley ran for 1,450 yards and 19 touchdowns. He had 48 tackles, 450 receiving yards and seven more touchdowns. Since football season ended, he has starred at several elite camps, racked up offers from multiple ACC, Big 10 and SEC schools plus Notre Dame — and he’s become an A-level national recruit.
247 Sports ranks Shipley among the top-50 players in the class of 2021 and No. 2 in North Carolina. It calls Shipley the No. 1 recruit overall nationally as an all-purpose back.
“He’s a special kid,” Weddington coach Andy Capone said. “He’s a kid who expects to be coached every day. That makes it easier for us but it also makes sure us coaches are on our game. If we’re not getting him coached, he’ll let you know. Because he wants to be coached every day, it’s just a blessing.”
Capone said he marvels at Shipley’s speed, balance and ability to catch the ball. Recruiters often compare Shipley to a high school version of Carolina Panther Christian McCaffrey. And Capone said as the college interest has ramped up, he has seen little change in his star.
“He’s quiet and humbly working,” Capone said. “He doesn’t put anything on social media. He just goes out there and gets after it, and he just wants to get better. The more he continues to get better, the more our team gets better.”
Both of Shipley’s parents went to N.C. State, and he’s got an offer from the Wolfpack. Shipley recently took unofficial visits to Duke and N.C. State and said he has two more trips planned — to Clemson for the Texas A&M game on Sept. 7, and to the Southern Cal at Notre Dame game Oct. 12.
But don’t expect him to announce a short list anytime soon.
“I’m going to take this season and focus on football,” he said, “focus on winning a state championship and then narrow [my college list] down and make it public towards the end of the season. Hopefully, we can come back this year and make it happen again, [send] all the seniors off with another state championship; send them off right.”