Two Southeast Missouri State offensive linemen eager to put injuries in past

Monday, August 15, 2011
Dominic Maldonado

It's hard to imagine a Southeast Missouri State football player having worse injury luck than Matt Shannon.

And it hasn't exactly been a smooth ride on the injury front for Dominic Maldonado.

But, knock on wood, the two offensive linemen say they're feeling healthy these days as they look to bolster a group that lost four starters from last year's record-setting season, including two All-Americans.

Shannon and Maldonado both played on the first unit during Saturday's opening scrimmage of preseason camp.

"It feels great to be back on the field," said Shannon as Maldonado nodded in agreement.

Matt Shannon

If it wasn't for bad luck Shannon probably wouldn't have any luck, as the old saying goes. The junior center has missed most of his first three seasons at Southeast due to three major ACL injuries that required surgery.

"Two on the left knee, one on the right knee," Shannon said.

Shannon appeared headed for a solid career with the Redhawks when he started two games early in his true freshman season of 2008. Then came his first knee injury that wiped out the rest of that year.

Shannon also had to sit out the entire 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

"It was tough, but I feel good," he said. "My knees are feeling good."

Shannon said that if he had to miss the entire past two seasons, he at least got to watch how Sean Middleton operated. Middleton started the last two years, earning All-American honors as a senior in 2010 when he was named the nation's top Football Championship Subdivision center.

"The last two years I learned from the best in Sean Middleton," Shannon said.

If the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Shannon does nail down the No. 1 center spot for this season, he should have a good rapport with all-Ohio Valley Conference senior quarterback Matt Scheible.

Shannon and Scheible are both from Washington, Mo. Shannon graduated from St. Francis Borgia High School, while Scheible graduated from Washington High School.

"We competed against each other in high school," Shannon said. "I've known him since the fifth grade."

Maldonado hasn't had as many injuries as Shannon, but he's had his share.

After transferring from the University of Arkansas, where he was a preferred walk-on in 2008, Maldonado made four starts for the Redhawks in 2009 but missed several games with a leg problem.

Maldonado, a 6-4, 315-pound sophomore right tackle, then had to sit out all of last season with a back injury that required surgery.

"It feels great to be back," Maldonado said.

Maldonado, who attended Eureka High School in suburban St. Louis, said it was especially difficult to miss Southeast's historic 2010 season, but he tried to make the most of it.

"It was definitely hard," he said. "I just had to try and help some of the younger guys, do what I could."

Maldonado acknowledged that a lot of people are looking at Southeast's offensive line as a major question mark, but he believes the unit will prove formidable.

"I think we're coming together real good," he said.

So does Southeast coach Tony Samuel, who is glad to have the often-injured duo back.

"They're working at it," Samuel said. "They seem to be in a good frame of mind after those injuries. That's half the battle."

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