By Michael Foster
Connor Shaw, the quarterback of South Carolina, is one of those players that are hard to evaluate based just on physical tools. He doesn’t have prototypical NFL size or arm strength. When it comes down to it, he doesn’t wow you physically, until you see him run. Plus, he has had problems staying healthy in his collegiate career. What has just been described is not to bash Shaw; it is to tell you what an NFL scout would likely tell you about his physical tools. As we know, there is more to playing football as a quarterback than being 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and having a gun for an arm. In some cases, those attributes help, but it doesn’t complete passes, lead a group of men or more importantly win football games. Those attributes just mentioned is what really does seem to matter, and it especially works in the college game. Fortunately, for Shaw, those are the things that Shaw does, and does well.
If you ask any fan of the South Carolina Gamecocks, they would say that Shaw is the undoubted leader of their program right now. In a conference full of quarterbacks that are more heralded than him, I believe there may not be one more important to his team. That was shown in this past week’s game against the previously undefeated number five ranked Missouri Tigers. That wasn’t the first time we have seen that, it has really been evident ever since Shaw has been the starting quarterback at South Carolina. He has helped make South Carolina relevant in the SEC East and in the conference as a whole, including an undefeated record at Williams-Brice Stadium, the home of the Gamecocks. Frankly, that is something that has never been seen in the school’s football history.
This past Saturday, Connor didn’t even start. Matter of fact, he wasn’t supposed to play because of a sprained knee. Missouri got up 17-0 on South Carolina halfway through the third quarter at home. Then the “Head Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier made the decision to put Connor out there. He came out looking like Kirk Gibson pinch hitting in game one of the 1988 World Series facing the great, Dennis Eckersley. Of course, you remember that the knee and hamstring hobbled Gibson hit a hit home run to win that game; well you can say Shaw hit a home run with his fourth quarter and overtime performance to take out an undefeated SEC foe. It was really an iconic moment for Shaw and the Gamecocks, maybe not as iconic as Kirk Gibson’s heroics but you get the picture.
Coming onto the field in the middle of the third quarter you could tell Shaw wasn’t completely healthy. You also could tell that the whole attitude and flow of the game was about to change. It did, dramatically. He was limited at first, not moving around as smoothly as he normally would, but come the fourth quarter, it was Shaw’s time to shine. Still down 17-0, Connor led his team to a six yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington on his second drive of the game. That started five consecutive scoring drives including another touchdown pass to Ellington on a fourth down play in the first overtime when Missouri was up seven, that sent the game to double overtime. He finished 20 of 29 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He changed the whole outcome of the game when he entered. He started throwing darts on the run, scrambling when he had too, and completing passes when the team needed it most. Bottom line, he did what he had to do for his team to win. It seems as if that is more than the rule than the exception for Shaw.
His heroics have not gone unnoticed. Even though he didn’t start the game he has received plenty of credit for his play. Shaw has been named SEC Offensive Player of the Week by the SEC office, National and SEC Offensive Player of the Week by Athlon Sports, the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week, and listed among eight quarterbacks named by the Manning Award as its “Stars of the Week.” Since, it seemed like those honors weren’t enough, we figured we would write this “spotlight” for The College All Star Bowl, and mention that he is still listed as a nominee for the Inaugural South Carolina College Football Player of the Year Award given out by the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame to be awarded on February 13, 2014.
If you have a chance, watch Connor Shaw play. Don’t look at his stature; look at how he carries himself. Look at the whole package of what Connor Shaw brings to the table? Does he play with toughness and heart? Is he a leader on and off the field? Does he win? These are the traits a college quarterback should have, and Connor does.
*Football Note: The College All Star Bowl will be played February 14, 2014 at Furman University. It will be broadcast Nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Top players from all over the country will be invited to play in front of NFL scouts before the NFL Draft in May. We have just released our TOP 400 Prospect List; you can access it at our website www.sccollegeallstarbowl.com.
Each week The College All Star Bowl chooses five players from their watch list who had exceptional performances during the previous week’s college football action. You can access each week’s profiles in the Players Spotlight section at . This article highlights one of those players.
Michael Foster is responsible for Football Operations at Wyatt Sports, LLC and coordinates Scouting for The College All Star Bowl. Michael is originally from the state of Michigan, but has lived with his wife Jody in the Upstate of South Carolina for the past five years. He has a Business Sports Management degree and has experience in sports media and scouting. You can email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow the bowl game on twitter @theallstarbowl, or get more information about the game at .