Aztecs’ Michael Shawcroft clos out career at Hawaii Bowl

San Diego State linebacker Michael Shawcroft, who battled through injuries to become a leader on the SDSU defense, announced on social media that Saturday’s EasyPost Hawaii Bowl will be his last game.

“Playing football has been my life since I was 5 years old,” Shawcroft posted online Wednesday night. “I’ve had so many great memories and made friendships that will last a lifetime.

“Unfortunately, I have to listen to my body and decide what is best for me and my future. With that being said, I’ve decided that the bowl game will be the last football game I ever play.

“Thank you San Diego State for giving a hometown kid a chance to play in front of his friends and family. I’m forever grateful.”

Shawcroft, a senior from Helix High, said last month that he needed some time to decide whether to return for one more season and use his “COVID year” of eligibility.

“That’s something I’ve been praying about, I’m going to think about,” Shawcroft said at the time, adding, “It’s just something that I need to listen to my body. I’ve had a lot of things happen to me here.

“I need to talk to trainers, talk to coaches and really decide what’s best for me in the next step of my life.”

He decided the Christmas Eve game against Middle Tennessee will be it for football. Shawcroft has been a leader both on and off the field for the Aztecs.

He was a second-team all-Mountain West selection this season. At SDSU’s team banquet two weeks ago, Shawcroft was recognized with the President’s Award for High Achievement. It is given to the player “who has achieved the highest standards of athletic and academic excellence.”

Shawcroft, who has earned a degree in kinesiology, was asked recently what has been most impactful during his four years on the SDSU campus.

“The biggest thing for me being in college, I’m a big advocate for mental health,” he said. “I think that’s something that a lot of athletes … you don’t think about. You think it’s all glitz and glamour. Most of it is. Being a college athlete is fun. You enjoy it.

“But a lot of people have things happen while they’re here. They go through personal battles. They go through injuries. They go through things you wouldn’t even think of.

“I try to talk with other student-athletes here, whatever sport it is.”

Shawcroft leads the Aztecs with 77 tackles, 18 more than safety Patrick McMorris, who is second in the category.

The 5 1/2 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss Shawcroft has this season are second only to defensive end Jonah Tavai’s nine sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss.

Shawcroft also has six quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, which also rank among the team leaders.

While the 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker is seemingly always around the ball, Shawcroft’s relentlessness has come at a price.

He has at times played with his hand wrapped like a club in games, the result of breaking both thumbs at different times.

He has injured his right leg several times, two requiring arthroscopic repair, and practices and plays with a brace on the knee.

Despite all this, Shawcroft has been on the field in 45 of 47 games the past four seasons.

“One of the things at San Diego State that we pride ourselves on is our physical and mental toughness,” Shawcroft said. “It’s something I’ve prided myself on. It’s something I was raised on.

“Injuries happen. It’s football. … You just kind of fight through it.”

In a tweet after Shawcroft’s announcement, SDSU defensive coordinator Kurt Mattix said: “Leader, Winner, Smart, Tough, a Professional. I could go on and on. What he does daily and weekly to play with his brothers I can’t even explain. 1 more (game) — I can’t wait to see the show you are about to put on!! Thank You!!”

Tweeted SDSU running back Chance Bell: “People don’t even know the half of it brotha. You put in the work and pushed through endless pain, all for the team. Selfless! Love you fam.”

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