Shaun Shivers sees himself now every time he opens social media.
His photo hangs in stores and restaurants across town. Ever since that run — and ever since that hit — Shivers has seen his image in just about in all places Auburn, part of a picture the fans have loved to share to celebrate Auburn power.
Shivers bowled over Alabama’s Xavier McKinney to score the go-ahead touchdown in last year’s Iron Bowl epic, and ever since then the play, life has been a little bit different for him.
“I didn’t know it was going to blow up like that,” Shivers said with a smile in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday — now about nine months removed from that play, but still not separated from it.
“People still talk about it — like, still talk about it, to this day.”
Shivers is getting set for his junior season at Auburn, pounding away at fall practice now as the Tigers continue workouts in isolation. He loves the new ideas from offensive coordinator Chad Morris, and he says all the running backs at Auburn are working hard and getting ready to share carries and support each other this season. The Tigers finished their first week of practice last Saturday with a scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and they’re working toward another one this Saturday.
But when asked to look back at bit at how things have changed since making a fan-favorite play last November, Shivers couldn’t help but smile.
“That’s been kind of crazy,” he said. “Every time I’m on social media I always see a new post about the hit. Even when I go out sometimes, I go out to Walmart or to get food, people always stop me like, ‘How does it feel to be a legend here at Auburn?’” he laughed.
Shivers scored on third-and-5 from the 11-yard line then with 8:10 left to go in the game, helping to turn a 45-40 Auburn deficit into a 48-45 score, which will go down in the record books and in urban legend.
He took a sideline-to-sideline handoff from Boobee Whitlow out of the Wildcat package, turned the corner, then rammed into McKinney near the 5 — getting positioning up underneath the safety and knocking off his helmet on the way into the end zone as the crowd erupted.
That celebration by the fans has lasted pretty much ever since. Iron Bowl bragging rights are always celebrated for a full 365 days, of course, but the sight of Shivers running right through an Alabama defender in particular is so satisfying and cathartic, it’s made the perfect profile picture or cubicle pin-up for orange and blue believers.
Shivers wouldn’t have it any other way.
He’s still looking forward, though.
“That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, be a leader for the team and the program and just let people feed off my energy,” he said, of being more vocal now as a junior on the team. “I knew I wanted to step up because it was time. This year I just took on a big role. It’s time to step up this year and lead the team and just do what I’ve always done since growing up — be a leader.”
Auburn practices again Thursday before the scrimmage Saturday. Auburn opens its rescheduled season Sept. 26 against Kentucky.
Whenever kickoff happens — and whether fans are there to cheer again or not — Shivers plans to be as big a part of Auburn’s offense as ever, and to maybe make a few more picture-perfect memories.
“I can say that, when we had the break, when we were back home for that long period of time, I’ve been working out every day, working my craft, working my game, working on catching the football, working on things I need to add to my game, catching kick returns and catching punts and things like that,” Shivers said. “I was doing that a lot when I was back home and now it’s transferred over here to the field, so I can say it’s going to be a big year — it’s going to be a good year — this year.”