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It was already a busy week for Cornell wide receiver Shane Kilcoyne.

With exams and a game against Dartmouth coming up that Saturday in late October, the last thing Kilcoyne expected was the news that raging wildfires had come within five miles of engulfing his home in San Diego.

"It's just not something that you ever expect to happen, it was totally out of the blue," Kilcoyne said. "I remember just waking up Monday morning and turning on the TV and seeing San Diego up in flames."

The junior's family was forced to evacuate into a neighbor's friend's house 30 minutes north of their home for three days.

They could take only a few possessions and, for a while, didn't know if they would even have a home to which they could return.

"There's just a lot of things going through your mind," Kilcoyne said. "Mainly, I just thought about what it would be like to actually not have a house."

All told, the wildfires blazed for 19 days, burning 500,000 acres and destroying more than 1,500 houses.

Kilcoyne's home wasn't one of them.

"We were definitely relieved when we heard we could finally go home," Kilcoyne's mother Susan said. "It was a relief to get back and see that our neighborhood was saved and that other than ashes everywhere it didn't experience anything devastating."

Despite the distraction back home, Kilcoyne was able to focus on football and deliver a solid rushing effort against Dartmouth that next weekend.

"He's a pretty level-headed guy," Big Red coach Jim Knowles said. "I'm sure it affected him internally, but you really wouldn't know it."

Kilcoyne's adaptability has proven useful in his junior campaign. After starting the year at running back, Kilcoyne spent two games at wide receiver and has also helped out with kick-off returns.

The junior struck early in Cornell's win over Columbia last weekend.

On the opening kick off, Kilcoyne returned the ball for 94 yards and a touchdown to spark the Big Red's 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

Kilcoyne's burst of offense earned him Special Teams Player of the Week honors this week.

"He really does it all," Knowles added. "He has been versatile and has been able to contribute in a lot of different places on offense for us."

Kilcoyne is averaging 46.7 yards on kick-off returns and is the team's fourth leading rusher.

And although it has been a rough season off the field, Kilcoyne doesn't mind the extra jostling when it comes to his position.

"I just need to bring that versatility and go in wherever the coaches feel that they need me," Kilcoyne said. "I just try to do the job the best that I can no matter what position I'm playing."

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