USC’s Shaw wants to be like Seattle QB Russell Wilson

jkendall@thestate.comFebruary 21, 2014 

Connor Shaw


— The coach of the King of the Short Quarterbacks has a message for all the short quarterbacks out there.

Seattle quarterback and new Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson has proven that a 5-foot-11 quarterback can play at the highest level in the NFL, but he hasn’t proven that any 5-foot-11 quarterback can do it, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll warned.

“A few years ago, there was a thought that a guy of Russell’s stature couldn’t play, which is obviously wrong, so anybody that said that is wrong, but not everybody who is 5-11 and a half can play quarterback,” Carroll said. “You have to be a great player.”

Former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw belongs to the Russell Wilson Wannabe Club in spirit if not in size. Shaw has measured in at an official 6-feet and one-half inch, which towers, at least figuratively, over the Lilliputian likes of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who created Friday morning’s biggest buzz at the NFL Combine simply by standing a mere 5-foot-113/4.

“I get asked all the time by NFL GMs and scouts who I would like to play like and I always say Russell Wilson,” Shaw said. “He has kind of paved the way for guys like me and opened the eyes of a lot of people that people like him, shorter mobile quarterbacks can be introduced in the NFL.”

Shaw measured at the magic 6-feet while at the NFLPA game.

“I was praying I was going to be 6,” he said. “If I was 5-11, that would have been a knock on me.”

Shaw didn’t fare as well as Manziel in another important measurement taken here Friday – hand size. Shaw’s hand measured 91/4 inch, while Manziel’s hands measured 97/8 inches. In the world of NFL ball security, that’s considered a big deal. Wilson’s hands are 101/4 inches.

Every college quarterback of Shaw’s size and skills should look up to Wilson, Carroll said.

“They’d be lucky to be able to be considered that,” said Carroll, who added he has seen some but not much of Shaw. “I can’t tell you anything more than he is a really good player, and he’s an interesting prospect.”

The most interesting part of Shaw’s evaluation from this point forward will be how he plays in the pocket because that is where he will have to make his money if he’s going to make it playing football.

“The knock on him is going to be, you are 6-foot, 6-foot-1, and when you scramble you get hurt,” said Chip Smith, who has trained 1,300 NFL players including Shaw. “You have to be able to throw first and run second.”

Even Wilson, for all his gifts, leans on his arm rather than his feet, Carroll said.

“College football has really generated a style of play that has allowed us to see quarterbacks as athletes outside of the pocket, but a great deal of their work has to be done inside the pocket,” Carroll said. “We have seen that you can’t last in this league running the football as a quarterback. You can’t do it. The pounding is too great.”

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Carolina quarterback Cam Newton are the only real exception to the “quarterbacks can’t run all day” rule, and there’s a reason for that, says Smith, who trained both at his Georgia facility.

“Kap is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. Cam is 6-5, 245, huge men that run 4.5, 4.4,” Smith said. “They can take a licking and give a licking. I don’t think Connor can do that as his size. I don’t think he would want to do that.”

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