Diamond in the Rough: Kam Shallis

Photo given to me by Kam Shallis.

Kam Shallis is a class of 2023 inside linebacker out of Martinsburg High in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Standing at 5’11” and weighing 205 pounds with a 4.62 GPA, the junior benches a 295, squats a 415, and runs a 4.78 40. Shallis has been described as the quarterback of the team’s defense, due to his leadership and stellar play. Earlier this week, I had the chance to speak with Shallis.

Q: Why do you play the game?
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to play football. Just getting to go out there and run around and getting to hit people… Obviously a lot of people talk about how great getting to hit people is, but it really is one of my favorite things. So getting that opportunity is just awesome.”

Q: Where do you see football going in your life?
“I want to use football as a tool to get the best education I can get. I want to use football to set myself up for the future I’m looking to achieve.”

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned playing football?
“When I was younger, my dad always told me to not get too high or too low. And while that is as much of a life thing as it is a game thing, it really stuck with me. That’s how I go about the game and life. [What it means is] don’t let your emotions get the best of you. You’re not going to be able to perform at your best when your emotions get too high, and you’re not going to be able to perform at your best when you’re feeling too low. It’s keeping a level mindset; staying confident, yet humble, and keep working.”

Q: What does football mean to you?
“Football has been such a big part of my life. It’s really been a way for me to express myself and to get my feelings out. That’s always been a huge part of it for me. It’s also getting to be around your friends and spending quality time with them. I mean, most of my friends have come from football, so the ‘family’ feel that you get from it – and also getting to express yourself – has been great.”

Q: What challenges have you overcome?
“From a football standpoint, injuries are the some of the biggest things that you have to overcome. Throughout my career, starting from little league up, in 6th grade, I broke my collarbone, so that was something huge. But more high-school wise, I played all year last season with a partially torn labrum and a partially torn AC join on both sides of my shoulders. So I’ve had to battle through that, and staying smart and keeping a positive mindset, being able to still go out there and perform to a level that you’re expected to perform through every Friday night. That’s definitely been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome.”

Q: What motivates you to keep playing, especially after those injuries?
“I’ve always felt that I had something to prove – not just to other people [or] to the colleges for recruiting, but to myself. I mean, football’s been such a big part of my life, and obviously if you take pride in something you want to be the best at it. Just proving to myself each and every Friday night that I’m dominant has been the main thing for me.”

Q: How do you balance sports with your other responsibilities?
“Like I talked about earlier, football is a tool I’m trying to use to get the best education I can get, so school is a huge part of my life. Balancing out studying with film, I’m usually at the table every night, studying for an hour and then watching film for an hour every night too. So once you get home from practice at six o’clock PM, you get showered, have dinner, you’re looking at seven o’clock there, then there’s the two hours [studying books and film]. I try to keep a steady schedule going, but it’s definitely tough.”

Q: Do you have a favorite football memory?
“I mean, you have people talking about state championships – don’t get me wrong, state championships… thats a great memory. Winning that last year was awesome. But I think some of my favorite football memorys from high school has to be the travel trips. One that comes to mind is the Riverside, Ohio game that we played last year. Getting to tour the hall of fame and getting to spend time with friends, and obviously going out there and having a good game and coming out with a win, that was something truly special.”

Q: How do you stay trained and in football-shape during the offseason?
“Coach Sherman, before he became our head coach, was our strength and conditioning coach. So he has a great workout program that we do. Over the summer, that’s usually Monday through Thursday, so during those days I’m in there. But this past summer, I actually got out and was working out with my psychology teacher from school, and we had been putting work up out at a local college. So that has been the crossfit aspect of working out that I’ve included this past summer.”

Q: How are you looking to improve your game?
“Every offseason, you want to get stronger and get faster, so I definitely have got to work on those every year. You can always be stronger, you can always be faster. I feel like a lot of my success has come from being a smart linebacker – being able to know what the offense is doing, and I definitely want to continue to work on that, because you can always get better at that too.”

Q: On the other side, what is the strongest aspect of your game?
“It probably is [my in-game IQ]. But I also take pride in being very physical. Obviously, that linebacker position – you’re going up against some pretty big dudes on the other side of the line. So being physical and having a high football IQ is definitely something I take pride in.”

Q: What are some goals you’ve set for yourself?
“Im coming off a pretty good junior season, so I definitely want to do better than how I did last year. I’d like to reach 100 tackles, I fell just short last year. From an individual standpoint, the Huff Award (defensive player of the year award for West Virginia) would be amazing, something truly special. But obviously, I’m really focused on winning another state championship and taking it week by week.”

Q: Do you try to model your game after any players, pro or collegiate?
“I’ve always looked up to Luke Kuechly, he’s always been a huge inspiration. I mean, how smart he is and calling out plays the offense is going to run before they run them, that is just something crazy. And his physicality… he’s just all-around a really great linebacker, so that’s definitely somebody that’s great to look up to.”

Q: What is your favorite part of playing linebacker?
“I like the way it sets me up. You’re always in the action as a linebacker. Obviously, I like hitting people, so being on the inside and getting to fill gaps is definitely a plus for that. But it also gives you a little bit of everything – I mean, you’re gonna have to run down plays from sideline to sideline, so I just like the versatility aspect of it.”

Q: Do you consider football to be more physically challenging, mentally challenging, or a bit of both?
“I’d probably have to go physically challenging. I mean, if you read your scouting report and you watch your film, I feel like you can kind of get a good sense of what’s going on. But if you’re not up to par, as far as being strong and fast, then you’re gonna fall behind.”

Q: What is something you want your coaches to know about you, past, present, or future?
“I’m a hard worker. You’re not always going to be the fastest, you’re not always going to be the strongest. But there’s something to be said to being the hardest worker in the room. I take pride in being that, and that’s what has gotten me to where I am right now.”

You can view his highlights here.