There’s still much more to accomplish at South Carolina, says the quarterback of the most successful stretch in Gamecocks’ history.
The availability of program firsts would be at the heart of his recruiting pitch to prospective student-athletes, according to Connor Shaw.
“I would tell recruits this: I went to South Carolina because there were so many opportunities to do things for the first time,” Shaw said. “When I was there we won the East. We didn’t win the SEC championship. We didn’t go to a BCS bowl game. As much of a run as we did have, there are so many things that still can be accomplished, and these guys need to know that.”
Joining a program on the rise was a part of the message to Shaw when he signed with USC out of Flowery Branch High in Georgia.
Shaw backed up Stephen Garcia in USC’s SEC East championship season of 2010, then led the Gamecocks through three-straight 11-2 seasons. Shaw started 27 of those victories to earn the distinction of being the school’s all-time winningest quarterback. He also owns five other USC passing records.
The Gamecocks defeated Clemson four times in Shaw’s career, won three bowl games and were No. 4 in postseason rankings after the 2013 season, the highest finish in school history.
He’s now one of five Cleveland Browns quarterbacks, along with Robert Griffin III, Austin Davis, Cody Kessler and Josh McCown. Shaw missed last season with a thumb injury, but is fully recovered.
He was leading a football camp for kids in Irmo on Saturday and was open to the idea of one day being a part of USC’s program in some capacity.
“That would be ideal. It would be nice to get back to my alma mater one day. We’ll just have to see,” he said. “My focus right now is to play and do these fun things in the offseason to help kids have these opportunities.”
Shaw has a familiar face from Cleveland on the staff in quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper, who spent the 2015 season with the Browns as a senior offensive assistant coach. The new direction under coach Will Muschamp is setting the right tone for the team heading into the new season, Shaw said.
“I think the staff and coach Muschamp have done a great job with their level of intensity,” he said. “That was much-needed when they first came in. He’s so positive. He’s really good about getting his players to buy in, which is really half the battle.”
Shaw praised the Muschamp staff’s recruiting efforts, which helped land two four-star quarterbacks for the 2016 class in Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain. Those two QBs and others hearing the Gamecocks’ recruiting pitch have a lot to be intrigued with, Shaw said.
“If they want to be part of something for the first time, then South Carolina, there’s no better place to do that,” he said.