By Josh Hyber/Photo by Allen Sharpe
Connor Shaw stood in an atrium at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 30 surrounded by the two loves of his life: family and football. There was a glass window to Shaw’s right, and beyond it Gamecock Park and Williams-Brice Stadium, where the one-time great became the winningest quarterback in South Carolina history.
“This is home, right?” Shaw asked, rhetorically. “I mean, this is familiar grounds. Two things I’m very passionate about: throwing a football and being a father.”
From 2010-2013, Shaw threw for 6,074 yards and 56 touchdowns and led the Gamecocks to a 27-5 record — including a 17-0 mark at Williams-Brice Stadium — and three bowl wins.
Shaw — who, on Jan. 9, was named the tight ends coach at Furman — was back in Columbia to host an event for All Pro Dad, an organization that promotes fathers being involved in their children’s lives. About making memories and cherishing them.
“I wish my two children were here, but I wasn’t brave enough to wake them up at 5:30 this morning,” Shaw joked. “But with a three-and-a-half and a one-and-a-half-year-old…”
Shaw, who has a daughter and son, says being a parent has changed his perspective on life.
“Just being a dad and understanding the value of what being a father means,” Shaw said. “And how important it is for your kids to understand that you love and are sacrificing time for your children. That’s really what it’s all about.
“All Pro Dad does a great job of getting parents, fathers specifically, involved with their kids. It’s not about the job title or the money they make or the toys that you give them, it’s just being engaged, being present and finding ways to suit their needs. I think that’ll just continue, and this organization does a great job with that.”
Shaw spoke positively of his time at Furman, even though he’s coaching a position he never played — even in Pop Warner ball — as a player. He spent three years on injured reserve in the NFL, so he became a pseudo coach in his later playing days.
“Ask any athlete, any competitor, it’s kind of a tough pill to swallow, hanging up the cleats,” Shaw said. “But it’s been a fun ride with Furman so far and we’re all just anxious to get on the football field and get the season rolling.”
The Georgia-native is responsible for recruiting the Midlands and northeast Georgia.
“I think if a kid has offers from South Carolina he’s kind of out of our league,” he admitted. “If he doesn’t come to Furman, go Gamecocks.”
Shaw was asked about if he ever thinks about what his playing career would have been like if he did not sustain multiple untimely injuries (to his thumb, leg and hamstring).
“I couldn’t do that to myself,” he said. “In the back of my mind, maybe. But I promise you, I probably learned more from those three years being on IR than I probably ever could have playing. Everything happens for a reason.”
Shaw’s college coach, Steve Spurrier, called and asked Shaw to quarterback the professional team he now coaches in Orlando.
“We’ve talked a few times since he took the job in Orlando, and I wish him nothing but the best,” Shaw said. “I think everyone’s excited for him to be back on the sidelines.
“... He asked if I was interested, but I think my body is thanking me that I’m on the sidelines coaching instead of playing.”
On Steve Spurrier, Shaw said, “There are so many things that you can take from coach Spurrier, on and off the field. You can write a book on some of the antics that he’s had from my four years. But the greatest thing about him is that he’s such a competitor and he commands perfection. He’s someone who has been there at every level and succeeded. He does a great job at maximizing his players and he got the best out of me. I’m very appreciative of him.”
On current SC quarterback Jake Bentley, Shaw said, “He’s beyond his years, and I think the greatest things about him are his leadership skills and his maturity level at the age he is … I think everyone expects big things out of him and the Gamecocks this year. I think they’ll shock a lot of people.
“… I think he’s got plenty of weapons around him. His wide receiving corps is as good as it’s been since I played.”
On Will Muschamp, Shaw said, “I’ve been able to spend some time with coach Muschamp. We were just in Columbia at a charitable event not too long ago. He’s a great person, values people, relationships. Obviously, a quality football coach. I think he’s done a great job with the transition and building a culture of South Carolina football.”