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Gateway LB Hale destined to hit

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By Tricia Lafferty
Friday, Aug. 24, 2007

Gateway senior linebacker Shayne Hale was 7 years old when he had the revelation.

Hale was watching a Steelers game with his father and made a bold statement for a kid who had never played organized football.

"I told him one day I want be out there, and he said, 'Your time will come. Do your best and it can happen,' " Hale said.

Ten years later, Hale finds himself rated as the No. 1 linebacker in the country, according to , with more than 50 scholarship offers and inching closer to his dream.

"I realized it when I had a talk with (Gateway coach Terry Smith) and he said, 'You have potential to play Division I football,' " Hale said. "You have potential to be the best to come out of Gateway. It helped me out and made me want to be better. It gave me that urgency to work harder and the urgency to get better because I wouldn't want to let anyone down."

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Hale, who bench presses 380 pounds and squats 460, could quite easily walk into an NFL locker room today and the pros probably wouldn't look twice, thanks to his physique and maturity. First, though, after narrowing his list to Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia and West Virginia, Hale has to choose a college.

"Shayne is the enforcer," Smith said. "He is the intimidator. He walks in and everyone gets quiet to see what kind of mood he's in. He doesn't speak a lot. When he does speak, everyone pays attention. And he's so big that you better pay attention. I have never seen a high school kid that was built like him."

Hale didn't strap on the pads until he was in seventh grade because he was always too big for his age group. To keep up with everyone else, he worked out with his dad and ran with his dogs. Hale, who's inspired by the play of Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, always knew, even before his playing days and after stints at defensive end, running back and safety, that he was made to be a linebacker.

"I always wanted to be a linebacker because I always liked to hit rather than be hit," Hale said.

As Hale enters his final season of high school football, he knows high expectations surround him and the Gateway football program. He's anxious to avenge the WPIAL championship loss Gateway suffered to Central Catholic when he was a freshman backup linebacker, and he's even more eager to leave a lasting impression on the football program.

"Even though we didn't win, I had that feeling," Hale said. "Once we left, I said, 'I have to get there my senior year. I have to do whatever I can to get back there.'

"I want to leave a kind of mark (on Gateway) that people say, 'I don't think there's any other kid that will walk out of there that played his heart out like Shayne Hale did, that worked in school like he did and that was a that big of a leader he was,' " Hale said.

Additional Information:

Player profile

Shayne Hale

School: Gateway

Position: Linebacker

Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 235

College plans: Hale, a five-star prospect with more than 50 offers, narrowed his list to Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia and West Virginia.

Thought you should know: Hale eats an entire jar of pickles, including the pickle juice, every night before a game. He said the salt prevents him from cramping up during games.

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