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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 18, 2001

Receiver is Tulsa's man in motion

Tulsa football player Donald Shoals can run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. He plays wide receiver and returns kickoffs and punts.

Tulsa wide receiver Donald Shoals leads the Hurricane with 37 receptions for 505 yards and a touchdown in five games this season.

University of Tulsa photo

Even his major, exercise physiology, involves constant motion.

Perhaps that is why the most difficult decision Shoals made was to stay put.

As one of the Western Athletic Conference's best all-purpose athletes, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Shoals considered applying for last April's National Football League draft.

But after consulting with his family, Shoals decided to return to Tulsa for his senior season. Tulsa plays host to the University of Hawai'i on Saturday.

"I wanted to get my bachelor's degree," said Shoals, noting that in April he will become the first member of his family to earn a college degree. "Football is great, but a degree is for a lifetime. That piece of paper will give me security for the rest of my life."

He said it was not difficult to resist the NFL's lure.

"What's another year without money?" he said.

"Obviously, money isn't what got me where I am. It's not the most important thing in the world."

Shoals has faith in his choices. "I've been blessed," he said, "even though I didn't have a great background."

 •  Hawai'i vs. Tulsa

• Game day: Saturday

• Where: Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Okla.

• When: 9:05 a.m., Hawai'i time


• 5th meeting
• UH's Overall Record: 2-2-0
• In Honolulu: 1-1-0
• In Tulsa: 1-1-0
• First meeting: Sept. 22, 1951
• Last meeting: Tulsa 24, UH 14, Sept. 30, 2000

He grew up in Enid, Okla., best known as a popular four-letter answer in crossword puzzles. "People will think of Enid and say, 'That's a little hick town,' " he said. "There's a bad neighborhood and negativity in every city."

Enid's dark side altered the lives of his two brothers. His step-brother, Randy Winn, is a hip-hop artist whose group, the Midwest Hustlers, was scheduled to release a CD this year. "One of the main guys got shot and killed this past summer," Shoals said, and the group's plans are on hold.

His younger brother, Delbert Shoals, is in jail, awaiting sentencing for a felony conviction.

"My mom took it hard," Shoals said. "Through the years, (Delbert) was going through a lot of things. He was in and out of jail, running the streets."

Shoals is a year older than Delbert, and he realized each faced the same temptations and obstacles. "The Lord kept me on track," Shoals said. "My grandmother passed away two summers ago, but she always told me to 'keep on, keepin' on. Never give up.' She was one of those inspiring grandmothers."

Shoals, who was raised by his mother after his parents divorced when he was 8, also found inspiration — and another option — from his father, a jazz musician.

Three years ago, Shoals became enchanted with the classical guitar after watching his father play one in church. His father bought him a used classical guitar for $89 from a pawn shop, and Shoals began experimenting.

One night, Shoals watched an MTV special on the Dave Matthews Band.

"He was playing a finger-picking style, the way I wanted to play," Shoals said. "I sat there and practiced. After a while, I got it down."

He said he has crafted 12 songs, although he only has played them for his parents.

"Music is another opportunity," he said. "It's always good to have options."