College Days: Shannon Sharpe

Hall of Famers Published on : 11/7/2013
Each week throughout the 2013 season, recaps the college days of a pro football legend.

Shannon Sharpe
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011

Shannon Sharpe retired as the NFL’s leading tight end in almost every category imaginable. The 14-year veteran, however, had to travel a long way to overcome the moniker of being “Sterling’s little brother” to eventually earn a bronze bust in Canton, Ohio. His older brother Sterling Sharpe, who was three years his senior, left a large shadow for Shannon as he grew up. Sterling was the star on the local football team and went on to an All-American career at South Carolina followed by an All-Pro career with the Green Bay Packers.

Shannon is the only Pro Football Hall of Famer to play at Savannah State. 
The younger Sharpe was raised in Glennville, Georgia where he attended high school. There he starred as Glennville High School’s running back, quarterback and linebacker. Sharpe followed in his brother’s footsteps and was selected as all-county, all-region and all-area in football. In addition to lettering in football four times, he earned three letters in basketball and four in track. As a junior he broke the Georgia Class A mark in the triple jump (48-3) and broke his own mark as a senior (49-5).  

Sharpe decided to stay in-state to play college football and signed with the Division II Savannah State Tigers. Sharpe’s collegiate career could be summed up by simply using the word “tremendous”…times three. He was selected three times as an All-American, three times as the All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and was a three-time choice as the conference’s offensive player of the year. All while leading the team in receptions in each of his four years on the Savannah State campus.

The impact of Sharpe’s great play was paramount to the success of Savannah State’s program. The flanker led the 1988 and 1989 Tigers to a combined 15-4 record including an all-time best 8-1 record in ‘89. As a senior, he caught 61 passes for 1,312 yards and 18 TDs. He had three games with 200 or more yards and one game with four touchdowns. Sharpe finished his four-year career with 192 receptions for 3,744 yards and 40 TDs. In his final two games, Sharpe became the first Savannah State football player to play in the Blue-Gray Classic (1990) and the East-West Shrine Game (1990).

Moving on to the NFL seemed like a natural progression for Sharpe but most teams were of the opinion that the chiseled 6-2, 230-pounder was too two slow for wide receiver but too small for tight end. The Denver Broncos eventually took him in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft with the intentions of playing him at wide receiver.

For the first two years he saw limited action and pulled in only 29 receptions for 421 yards and two TDs. The Broncos moved him to tight end in his third season and he led the Broncos in receiving with 53 catches for 640 yards to earn his first of eight Pro Bowl nods. By 1993 he had joined his older brother Sterling on the All-Pro squad.

The younger Sharpe would soon blaze his own trail as he would go on to lead the Broncos in receiving six times and the Baltimore Ravens once. He was named first-team All-Pro and All-AFC in 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998 and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

Shannon’s HOF Bio>>