COLUMBIA -- In his time bouncing around from the NFL to college coaching staffs to private business, one dream never left Connor Shaw.
He always hoped one day he’d get a call to come rejoin the South Carolina football program in some capacity and a few weeks ago he got that.
Shaw didn’t waste any time accepting Will Muschamp’s offer, and Wednesday he was officially announced as the team’s director of player development.
“I love what they’re building here. It’s very special with the staff he’s brought in and the guys he’s recruiting,” he said. “The first conversation we had was we don’t have a lot of bad guys character-wise. These guys want to learn. They want to be sponges and want to work hard. Those guys are easy to work with. It could have been two months ago, two months from now and I would have been ride or die.”
Shaw takes over the program that Marcus Lattimore headed for the last few years.
When Lattimore told Muschamp he was leaving to study abroad in December, one of the coach's first calls was to Shaw, another one of the best to ever play at South Carolina from the team’s heyday in the early 2010s.
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In four seasons at South Carolina, Shaw finished first wins (27), second in touchdowns (56) and eighth in yards (6,074), while throwing just 16 interceptions his entire career and just one as a senior.
“He’s someone that’s been on the campus, been through the gauntlet of working here and playing here and understanding that part of it,” Muschamp said. “He’s been there and done that at the highest level of our university. It’s a huge benefit to have someone that’s walked the halls, that understands being a Gamecock.”
Now it’s up to Shaw to take over and put his own spin on things as he tries to be another piece in the Gamecocks’ off-the-field support system, which Muschamp called the best in the country.
Shaw is essentially in charge of running the team’s Beyond Football program tasked with making sure players are ready to face the real world when their playing days are over.
The former quarterback started this week and has spent the last few days getting to know the players.
“As excited as I am, this is not about me. Every guy in that locker room chose the University of South Carolina because they believe they’ll be developed into outstanding football players and earn a great education and leave here as mature, respectable men,” he said. “When I look at my role: career building, mental health, life skills and mentorship. It resonates with me. To dive deeper into that, you look at professional development, network, self-awareness and helping them with decisions that set themselves up for success.”
While he can’t do any on-field coaching, Shaw is back and loving life at his alma mater with the hope, he said, of staying in Columbia a very long time.
“Regardless of the timing, it’s an opportunity to come back to the university that I love that invested so much in me,” he said. “Did I enjoy what I was doing before this? Sure. I learned a lot and it’s a great skill set I think will be transferrable to this type of role. I had aspirations to be a part of this university.”