Shaw flying high after recovering from injury

jkendall@thestate.comJune 25, 2013 

Connor Shaw bruised his right thumb during Saturday's scrimmage.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Connor Shaw’s left foot, once so mangled he took pain-killing injections before games and pain pills on the sideline during games, is now healthy enough to allow him to jump out of an airplane, which he did Saturday.

The medical update is good news for South Carolina’s football team. What Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier will think of his starting quarterback taking up skydiving is another matter.

"I don’t think (the coaches) know yet," Shaw said Tuesday in an interview with GoGamecocks.com, "so we’ll see how that goes."

Regardless, Shaw is ready to jump again as soon as he gets a chance.

"It was an incredible rush," he said. "I think we jumped out at 17,000 feet and opened our chute at 5,000. It happened so fast. It felt like you were just floating up in the air. I would absolutely do it again."

Shaw participated in a tandem jump (a requirement for first-time jumpers) on a trip with friends to Skydive Carolina in Chester on Saturday.

"I want to go by myself next time," he said.

Shaw’s foot, which slowed him throughout the second half of the 2012 season and forced him to miss all of spring practice following January surgery, also is getting a workout on the team’s practice fields. The senior was cleared for full participation at the end of May and has taken part in all of the team’s summer workouts, including twice-a-week 7-on-7 sessions, he said.

"It’s all good now," he said. "It was a long process. It was very frustrating during spring ball, but honestly it was probably a blessing in disguise because I was able to sit back and take everything in and watch it from more of a coach’s perspective. I really learned a lot through that. I’ve been through three spring balls. It’s not like a lot would have changed me going through it again."

Shaw was injured on the final play the Oct. 19 Tennessee game when he planted his foot into the ground while trying to remain inbounds and run out the clock.

"As soon as I planted, I felt it just pop, shred," he said.

He suffered a stress fracture and damage to two ligaments on that play and both worsened as the season progressed, he said. From that point on, Shaw received a pain-killing shot before games and took more pain medicine at halftime. He also took pain pills on the sideline during games at times, he said.

"I think the most I took was maybe three," he said. "I didn’t want to get loopy out there."

Even with the medicine, the injury got so bad that he had to sit out the Nov. 30 game against Clemson. He returned Jan. 1 for the Outback Bowl but had to leave in the fourth quarter.

"As soon as I planted and spun out (on the final play), I just felt everything in my foot go limp. I could not do anything on it," he said.

Shaw, who is 17-3 as South Carolina’s starter, finished the season with 1,956 passing yards, 435 rushing yards and 20 combined touchdowns.

"It came to a point at the end of the season where you want to be out there, but you have to do what is best for the team," said Shaw, who missed the second game of the year due to a broken scapula. "It was a lingering thing, it was very painful. It was a very frustrating, long season. I felt like I battled through it and did what I had to do to win."

He’s excited, now, to see what he can do fully healthy for his final season. All the signs so far are positive, he said.

"I was wondering how rusty I would be because I couldn’t drop back and throw (while rehabbing his foot injury)," Shaw said. "But more than anything I had a fresh arm. I felt great. I was slinging it around. It felt really good."

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