PROVO — Talon Shumway’s emergence is a unique sideshow to BYU’s kickoff of the 2017 football season Saturday when the Cougars host Portland State at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
A year ago, Shumway saw limited action after nursing health issues. But he is now fully healthy. Boy, is he ever healthy. It shows.
This fall the hype started. And he was named a starting receiver for Ty Detmer’s offense.
Word of Shumway’s playmaking ability spread fast in fall camp the final week of July. Then the media saw it in person. Then folks started a little buzz about the 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver and his 38-inch vertical leap, sure hands, strength and decent receiver speed.
It will be on display Saturday.
What is up with this Shumway guy?
Golden Holt was his AAU basketball coach when he was a youngster traveling the country with future Lone Peak High basketball teammates Eric Mika, TJ Haws and Nick Emery. Holt got a firsthand look at Shumway’s skills. Then he faced him as Orem High’s coach, an opponent. He had to game plan against him. His perch is unique.
Holt remembers Shumway as a quiet and reserved dynamo of energy. Shumway was a kid that Holt had to work hard to get to know back in the day. Holt tried to gain Shumway’s trust. In time, they forged a strong and everlasting relationship that Holt places great value on today.
That Shumway’s had a great if not standout fall football camp doesn’t surprise Holt. “He’s one of my all-time favorite players,” he said.
Shumway came to Holt’s AAU team in the fifth grade.
“Talon was a known kid but he showed up, very quiet, humble and we weren’t sure what we had. But as soon as we rolled the ball on the court, Talon was the most fierce competitor I’ve ever been around, ever coached, ever.”
Holt said Shumway never talked to him for the first six months. He kind of grunted and smiled but did whatever was asked of him.
“He wondered if I was going to be just another coach in his life or somebody he could trust. Once I broke through, Talon was my favorite player," Holt said. "I’d literally point at the wall and he’d run through it if I asked. He’d do everything without question. He stayed quiet and humble but he was so fierce and determined as a competitor, that’s what made him so great. Then, he was so danged athletic.
“He was two-hand dunking the ball in the seventh grade. He was just slamming it down. His athleticism was off the charts. Eric Mika came along the way later in the 10th grade, so we weren’t blessed with that AAU team with a lot of size. So, in the seventh and eighth grade when we were playing against the likes of Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins and the Harrison twins, all that future NBA talent, Talon had to take on those elite players and guard them.
“He took on the biggest and baddest of the other guys. We’d just point to who he had to guard and he went after it. Nick and TJ got the offensive accolades but Talon did the dirty work.”
Holt said there is no flamboyance to Shumway, no showboating, just playmaking.
Holt remembers coaching against that powerful Lone Peak team in a low-scoring game in which his strategy was to hold the ball and limit possessions. It was a year after Orem upset Lone Peak in the Great Western Shootout.
Holt’s strategy worked through the third quarter. It was a dogfight, the score tied 27-27. But once Shumway got a feel for Orem’s offense, he began stepping in the passing lanes and deflecting the ball. Twice Shumway picked it up and outraced everyone for breakaway buckets. At the rim, he cautiously just laid the ball up and after doing it on a trio of consecutive Orem possessions, Lone Peak had broken loose and pulled away.
“The gym was full. He could have gone down and windmilled it, 360’d it, double-pump jammed it, whatever he wanted, he could have done on those breakaways because he can jump out of the gym. He was a senior and this was his last game.”
Afterward, one of the coaches came up to Talon and asked why he didn’t just slam down the ball on those breakaways and give the crowd something to cheer about.
Shumway answered, “I didn’t want to do that to Coach Holt.”
In the remembering, Holt gets emotional, kind of choked up. His thoughts return to how it all began, the silence, the quest for mutual trust. The breakthrough. The bond.
He got it. “That story shows the humility and integrity Talon has in his life. Most kids would be flourishing in that moment, in the glory, but not Talon. He is one of a kind.
“To this day, Shumway is still quiet, so soft- spoken," Holt said. "... He still processes things in his mind very deliberately and that makes him a very smart player.”
Holt remembers Shumway playing football at Lone Peak and making all kinds of athletic moves on the field.
“Go back and look on YouTube at his plays, going up and over defenders for touchdown passes. He is so freaky athletic. He can really jump but he is so quick. He could play college basketball if he wanted to. He’s that quick. Any jump ball I’d put my money on Talon, any loose ball, I’d put my money on Talon.
“You won’t find anybody as determined as Talon Shumway. He was really something else.”
Shumway’s back problems held him back dating back to his senior year of high school, but after having surgery, he seems to have made a full recovery and is geared to be a major contributor his sophomore season.
At least that’s what fall camp has displayed to witnesses.
Thus the hype.
He's one of those receivers head coach Kalani Sitake said nobody knew of their names "but you will."
Come Saturday, we’ll all see Shumway.
See him do it the Talon way.