For anyone who thought Connor Shaw would show up at his first practice and step immediately into the backup quarterback role, Thursday’s shorts-and-helmets workout served as a reminder that making the jump from high school to the SEC remains a big leap.
Think Shaun White on the half-pipe big.
It’s not that Shaw was bad. He just looked young, especially when he stood next to Stephen Garcia, who was sporting a thick beard to go with his thick chest and shoulders.
Shaw was listed as 6-1, 192 pounds when he signed with the Gamecocks. The updated roster has him at 6-foot, 199 pounds.
He’s had two months in USC’s weight program. He’ll get bigger and stronger with time.
Shaw had his moments. Steve Spurrier, who puts a huge emphasis on throwing mechanics, said the ball comes out of Shaw’s hand “pretty nicely.”
It did not always maintain its spiral after it left his hand, however. The wind made throwing tough at times. Garcia had a couple balls flutter on him, as well.
Shaw’s welcome-to-the-big-time moment came on the final snap of practice, when strong safety Damario Jeffery made a good break and stepped in front of a Shaw pass for what likely would have been a pick-six in a real game.
Jeffery was primarily a special teams player last year as a freshman, finishing with 15 tackles in 12 games.
But the Columbia High graduate is big and strong and fast – the kind of athletic player that Shaw will be facing every week in the SEC.
No one is suggesting after one practice that Shaw won’t be successful – only that the learning curve in this league is steep, even for a high school coach’s son.
But Shaw will have his shot.
“He got a lot of snaps,” Spurrier said. “And he’s going to continue to get a bunch of snaps.”