Connor Shaw kicks off busy month of pro workouts

Special to The StateApril 3, 2014 

Connor Shaw was one of ten former Gamecocks who worked out in front of NFL coaches, scouts, media and the fans on Wednesday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com

Connor Shaw finished his South Carolina career as the winningest quarterback in school history, including going 17-0 at Williams-Brice Stadium.

He had one final fling on that turf Wednesday, hoping to impress the NFL scouts, coaches and media at South Carolina’s Pro Timing Day. The Flowery Branch, Ga., native said he felt he accomplished what he set out to prove to the 30 NFL teams that were on hand to evaluate the 10 former USC players who worked out.

“I wanted to show them that I could go underneath center,” Shaw said. “Mainly during my career I was a shotgun quarterback. I thought I did a pretty good job of that today and threw with a little bit more velocity. Overall, I was really pleased.”

Many of the draft experts believe Shaw will be a late-round pick or possibly have to take the free agent route to getting into a camp. However things pan out, Shaw is prepared to do what it takes to be on an NFL roster in the fall.

“This has been the world’s longest job interview but I’m excited for it,” he said. “I’m taking advantage of the stage I’ve been given and am looking to the future. I’m going to have to compete for a job regardless if I’m drafted or a free agent. All I can focus on is how hard I work. Everything else is out of my hands.”

Todd McShay of ESPN believes Shaw has proven capable to be at least a back-up quarterback on the NFL level.

“The guy’s a gritty competitor, coach’s kid, competitive family,” McShay said. “He’s the kind of guy you want in the locker room. I think where he is right now is he’s got to continue to progress with his accuracy and consistency, especially down the field throwing. But I saw him make a lot of strides this last year in that area.”

Shaw looked comfortable coming from underneath center and throwing passes to former USC receivers Bruce Ellington, DeAngelo Smith and David Wilkins. He threw short, intermediate and deep passing routes to all three and showed his ability to move around in the pocket. He made all the throws with ease and showed great arm strength as well.

The NFL puts a premium on ball security and Shaw only threw one interception in 284 pass attempts last season. He had 16 picks in his career in 733 passes thrown so he’s shown the ability to make smart decisions.

But one of the biggest question marks surrounding Shaw is his size. He measured 6-foot at the NFL Combine in February and many scouts question how much that will be an issue. But the success of quarterbacks Drew Brees of New Orleans and Russell Wilson of Seattle only helps someone of Shaw’s statue.

Shaw rushed for 1,683 yards in Gamecock career so that should be a positive as he pursues his NFL dream.

“(Russell Wilson) kind of paved the way for sure with more mobile quarterbacks,” Shaw said. “Alex Smith and Drew Brees are guys that are a little shorter but can extend plays and are very smart people that don’t turn the ball over. I think quarterbacks like that always have a chance in the NFL.”

The next month leading to the NFL draft will be a busy one. Shaw expects to have individual workouts for several NFL teams but he didn’t want to divulge any of that information on Wednesday. He was just ready to move on to the next step in his career while thinking off all the good times he’s had at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“It’s absolutely bitter sweet,” Shaw said of performing for the last time at USC. “This is my home. Never lost here and I can always say that coming back here I’ll always have great memories. It’s pretty special to end on a note like this. But my April is slammed with some private workouts, so this isn’t the end for me.”

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