Connor Shaw wears many hats: Dad, husband, Colonial Life employee.
But in late June at one of his renowned Shaw Camps, at River Bluff High School in Lexington, the South Carolina football legend (2010-13) played the role of coach to more than 130 campers.
“It’s just a give-back initiative where we set up a platform, an outlet, for kids to come compete with their peers,” Shaw said. “We have a great group of staff here. It means a lot to me to not only have good instructors, but good men, that these kids can learn from. As you can see, it’s a great setup here at River Bluff and we’re excited to get this thing rolling.”
Shaw won 27 games at South Carolina and is the school’s career leader in completion percentage (65.5 percent). He ranks second in career passing touchdowns (56) and fourth in career passing yards (6,074).
He spent 2014 and 2015 with the Cleveland Browns — and started one game — but missed the 2015 season due to a thumb injury. He was signed by the Chicago Bears in 2016 but missed the season due to a broken leg and was waived in May of 2017.
After leaving the NFL, Shaw joined the Furman coaching staff as tight ends coach but left after spring practice in 2017.
Reporters caught up with Shaw before the event. Here’s an excerpt from the discussion.
Q: Why did you start this?
A: Football has given a lot to me, so it’s just a way to use football as a vehicle to give to our youth, which is inevitably our future. My goal behind this thing is to ignite a passion, to get these kids in some sort of competitive sport, it doesn’t have to be football. I think it holds us accountable and forces us to become better. It’s just a great fellowship out here. We’re promoting kids to stay active, to stay healthy.
Q: When you were a youngster, did you come to camps like this?
A: I sure did. That’s really why I love to do it, because those ignited a passion for me as a little kid. Being able to learn from high school coaches and guys who played collegiately and professionally. I think the kids will get a lot out of it and it’s something we look forward to every summer.
Q: What are you first football memories?
A: Oh goodness. My dad was a head football coach since I was born. So just being around the high school players in the locker room and being a sponge. In my eyes, all those guys were superstars.
Q: What has your post-NFL transition to life after your playing career been like?
A: It has been a challenge, just because football has been my life since I was 6. I was raised by two coaches, essentially, in a locker room. It has been a great new challenge for me working with Colonial Life. I’m all over the state working with different companies. I really enjoy meeting new people and building new relationships. It’s been busy. Doing the [football] camps here this summer. I’ve got a 5- and 3-year-old, just about, so life is good. But lift is busy.
Q: Do you think you’d ever want to get back into coaching?
A: You know, I’ll never say never. My brother is a head coach in Georgia. I don’t see it in the near future, but maybe at the high school level sooner or later.
Q: What do you think of Jake Bentley going into his senior year?
A: I think there will be a lot expected from him, but that’s a good thing. He’s a senior. He’s a veteran. He’s going to hold a gavel in that locker room. I think right now [the team] is just focusing on themselves and letting the chips fall where they may in the fall. But he’s got a good supporting cast. He’s a smart kid and has a great skillset and I’m sure he’s ready to play some ball.
Q: Do you think it’ll be difficult to replace a guy like Deebo Samuel?
A: Sure. That’s hard to replace. But you know what? You always have guys who step up. Bryan Edwards is going to come back. You’ll find out real fast who those contributors are going to be early in the season. But [Jake] has enough weapons around him. He’s got a good front five. And the defense is coming back. Staying healthy, that’s the name of the game. But I’m excited.
I think we’ve got a good chance. Tough schedule, but that’s the way you want it. You’ve got to beat the best to be the best.
Q: So much has been made about the schedule with Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. How daunting is it when you look at it that way?
A: I honestly think you just focus week to week. You don’t pay attention to the strength of schedule. You’ve got to play the big dogs anyway in this league and compete to the best of your ability every Saturday and trust your coaches’ game plan and go play ball and compete your tail off.
Q: Is it easier for a guy like Bryan McClendon to install more in year two of his offense?
A: Completely. And he’s got some good guys in coach Werner, who has been there done that, to kind of help him gameplan. But I’m a big fan of B-Mac. I think he’s doing great job and I love the offense that he’s been able to implement, around the skill set of his players. So I think we can expect a lot from him this year. And we’re going to have to score some points.