Love and Football
By Trish O'Donnell
There are two sides to Andrew Shull. The aggressive, outspoken and hard hitting one that K-State fans see on Saturdays. But off the field, Shull is completely different laid back and a romantic at heart.
Wait a minute. Romantic? A Division I student-athlete? Shull’s relationship with fianc Shay Lowe illustrates his passion for life on and off the field.
Shull claims his favorite off the field moment is asking Lowe to be his wife. They first met on July 4, 2002. Shull had no plans for the holiday, so teammate Sean Lowe, a redshirt freshman linebacker, invited Shull to his home in Arlington, Texas.
"That’s when I first met Shay," Shull said. "Nothing really happened though. I called her a few times just to say hello. We didn’t start dating until a few months later."
That fall, Shull and Shay Lowe began their long-distance relationship. She lives in Dallas and sells insurance and goes to school, while Shull spends most of his time on the football field, in meetings at the football complex or in classes.
So is Lowe jealous of all the time Shull spends with his teammates?
"She’s actually really cool about it," Shull said. "Shay loves football and she knows that all the time I’m putting in now could help us both out in the future."
And as far as the distance thing goes?
"We started out dating from a distance, so it's something we've just gotten used to," Lowe said. "We make up for it the best we can. I come up for every football game and in the off-season, he comes down to Dallas as much as he can. I try to arrange my work and school so I can spend as much time with him as possible."
But Shull says the effort is all worth it.
"It’s really crazy how things work out," he said. "We meet each other by chance and God obviously had a hand in things. Really, what are the chances of meeting such an amazing girl from down in Texas while I’m playing football at Kansas State?"
For Shull, simply playing football is a bit of an understatement. Through nine games this season, Shull has tallied eight tackles for a loss of 16 yards, two sacks and six pass breakups. He has made 42 tackles thus far, which ranks eighth best for the Wildcats in the defensive stats category.
"I’m a lot different on and off the field," he said. "It’s kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thing. There are things I say out there that I’d never say off the field. When I’m out there, I totally lose myself in the game. It’s a nice escape from reality."
So what is this 6-foot-5 defensive end like away from the turf?
"He's really sentimental and sweet," Lowe said. "When I met him I knew he was Mr. Celebrity up at K-State so I thought he'd have an ego to go along with it. But he's not like that at all. He'd probably kill me, but he's really sensitive and not your typical jock."
Other than that, Shull is a self-proclaimed neat freak who has to have everything in its place and his apartment clean. Since Shull lives by himself, it’s not hard to do.
"I love living alone," he said. "When I’m around people all day, it’s great to come home and be by myself. I can do homework and there isn’t any noise. And I don’t have to clean up after anyone."
Shull is a bit of a comedian as well. He’s the one who will wrestle with his teammates like they are his little brothers. He’s the one who will make sure a buddy gets a nickname if he deserves it. Just ask Josh Buhl about being called Superman’ and you’ll understand.
"I like to have fun," Shull said. "I’ll do what I can to make a bad situation better. Pranks are always fun and I can always use a laugh."
Especially in the serious atmosphere that is Vanier Football Complex. Shull claims to have learned much from his days in the Wildcat football program. Everything from time management, in the way head coach Bill Snyder uses every minute of a practice, to his work ethic, one aspect of his personality that truly matches Snyder’s.
"Coach is pretty even-keeled," Shull said. "It’s hard to see his emotions. I’ll wear my emotions out on my sleeve, which is a bit different from Coach. But each of his players knows his system and he has instilled in all of us an amazing work ethic."
Though Shull is a machine between the white lines, he is nearly opposite when practices are over.
Shull’s father got him a little yellow scooter to drive to classes on the K-State campus. He says he’s a bit lazy when it comes to walking to class and riding a bicycle isn’t his style. He can park the scooter in the bike rack right next to the building he’s going to and save his energy for football.
"I know I’m a big guy for such a little bike," Shull said. "And there is a weight limit, but I just ignore it."
Shull will graduate in December and plans to move to Dallas to finish up wedding plans and to tie the knot. The couple will have had almost a year-long engagement.
Shull said he had been setting Lowe up for a while.
"I told her not to expect anything soon, but I knew the engagement was going to happen," Shull said.
Though he proposed shortly after the spring game, Shull had purchased the diamond in January but hadn’t gotten it set until April. That gave Shull plenty of time to plan the perfect proposal.
The two went to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants in Dallas and ate a fabulous meal. Shull then took Lowe to the one place he remembers about Dallas from his childhood, the Mustangs at Las Colinas. He had with him a handful of small silver stones, inscribed with words like joy and peace. Shull began to talk about them to Lowe and explained his love for her. She wasn’t expecting anything when he pulled out the ring and got down on his knee.
"I’ll never forget her face," Shull said. "Plus it was great when my parents flew down and joined her parents and friends for an engagement party afterwards."
This great moment for Shull is on a completely different level from his favorite football memory the comeback in the 2002 Holiday Bowl and the last stand of that defense but it will always stand as one he will always remember.