It may not have been the season many South Carolina Gamecocks fans were hoping for. The team is sitting at 6-6 after going 11-2 for three straight years. But Gamecocks fans seem to be getting an early Christmas present: South Carolina’s all-time winningest quarterback seems to be getting his shot in the NFL. Connor Shaw went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, but has spent the entire year on the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns.
In a press conference yesterday, Browns coach Mike Pettine said that superhyped quarterback Johnny Manziel has a significant injury to his hamstring suffered in a 17-13 loss to the NFC South leading Carolina Panthers, and it is a “several week injury.” Brian Hoyer also went down after throwing a pass and getting sacked onto his shoulder. He has not been ruled out, but is listed as questionable. There is no official word on whether Shaw will start or not, but a lot of people are hoping he does.
Pettine said “Connor Shaw will get a good number of reps with the starters, and as we speak, we’re exploring some other options to bring in a quarterback.”
He continued to say “His strength lies in his competitiveness. He’s a guy that I wouldn’t be surprised for him to — if he does have to play — that he goes out there and plays well. He showed flashes of it in the preseason. It wouldn’t come as a surprise because we all know what type of kid he is.”
The only thing that is certain for Shaw is that he was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster on Monday evening. The Browns reached out to several other quarterbacks, including Rex Grossman, but could not come to an agreement on such short notice.
The only NFL action Shaw has seen in his first year was in the preseason. Although it wasn’t much, Shaw did what he had been known to do in his time in Columbia, going 8-9 for 123 yards and a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the closing seconds to pull within one. Instead of kicking a field goal, the Browns went for two and the win, but were not successful. But Shaw showed what fans already know: he wins games. He may not have the flashiest stats, but he does know how to protect the ball and drive down the field to score.
Many fans were shocked when Shaw went undrafted. It’s hard to argue with his production and winning records, and also his freakish stats his senior year (more about my man-crush on Connor Shaw here.
The Browns are hoping he can provide some of that magic in their season finale against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
*Section Photo credit to Streeter Lecka, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Brad Mills, USA Today Sports