Getting to Know Derek Shaw

A lot has happened ever since Derek Shaw began his football career at the age of eight. Nearly ten years later, Shaw is now widely considered one of the nation's top quarterback prospects. Shaw tells the story.

"Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather (Dick Enright)," Shaw said. "He played at USC and then with the Rams in the NFL. He was a head coach at Oregon and then coached with the 49ers so I was always around football. It's something that I've been around my whole life."

Shaw didn't begin his football career like most top prospects.

"My grandpa didn't want me playing tackle football right away so I started with flag football," he said. "I remember my first year. I was throwing a touchdown on like every pass. We were destroying teams. It seemed so fun and easy so I got moved up to the older division and was pretty much doing the same thing."

Two years later, Shaw was ready for tackle football -- or Pop Warner as it's called. However, he wasn't a quarterback at the time.

"I started out playing running back," he said. "I wanted to deliver some hits and be able to score touchdowns. I thought the quarterbacks were the wussies who were afraid of getting hit. I played running back and linebacker for awhile but then my grandpa sat down and told me that if I want to have a long career in football that I needed to start playing quarterback. So I did and things really took off from there."

Shaw began playing quarterback in Fallbrook during his Junior High days. He developed a lot of good friendships with kids from that area, something to keep in mind later in this story. Shaw began his freshman year at Murietta High.

"It was a big school, probably about 5,000 kids," he said. "There was a lot of competition. You know how everyone wants to be the star quarterback? Well, I ended up being the starter for the freshman team. I broke a bunch of records and halfway through the season I got moved up to varsity."

Shaw's sophomore season at Murietta didn't exactly go the way he had hoped it would.

"They didn't like playing younger kids," he said. "I was one of two quarterbacks they played. The other kid was a senior. I would lead my team down the field and then they'd take me out when we were about to score. I don't know why and on top of that, they were giving him all my stats. I couldn't figure it out but it's not something I really enjoyed. Then that offseason, they hired in a new offensive coordinator, who brought a whole new offense with him. I knew it wasn't for me -- like the wishbone or something."

Shaw began looking around at other otions. He remembers attending the CIF championships his sophomore year.

"I remember watching Oceanside and I was very impressed," he said. "Their QB was having a lot of fun. He had great athletes to throw to and they were throwing a lot. It just seemed like a real exciting offense to be in for a quarterback. So that's how I chose Oceanside."

As a junior last season, his first at the new school, Shaw put up 2,200 yards through the air with 24 touchdowns compared to just ten picks. Unfortunately, Shaw's season came to an end against Fallbrook, a team full of kids he grew up playing Pop Warner with.

"I remember getting intercepted late in the game that decided the game and I was so mad, I can't really describe the feeling," he said. "I hate losing and especially to them that night. I'm using that as motivation to make it all the way this year."

The talented signal-caller, 6-3 and 215 pounds, is now gearing up for a huge senior season. He's very excited.

"They ranked us fifth in the state so I know a lot of people will be going for us," he said. "I don't get too involved in all the team and player rankings but we're excited to get going. We have big expectations this season and our guys have been working really hard all summer."

Shaw's summer included a stop at Southern Cal's summer camp, where he was named the Camp MVP. Shaw talks about what he thinks makes him different than most quarterbacks.

"Everyone is so caught up in rankings," he said. "I think a lot of it is politics. I know what I can do. I know that if the game is on the line and there's a pressure situation, I'm going to deliver. That's really the true sign of a good quarterback, I think."

The recruiting process is something Shaw didn't get too interested in until lately when a big opportunity opened up.

"I was going to wait and just enjoy it all but then Miami came through with an offer so I went ahead and committed to them," he said. "It just felt right."

Again, the talented quarterback tells the story on how it all went down.

"Awhile ago they came out to watch some quarterbacks out here, like Mark Sanchez," he said. "He was gonna go see me but for some reason someone told him I had a broken hand, which wasn't true. After I won the MVP at USC's camp, a lot of teams started offering. Florida offered me and so I picked up the phone and called Miami. They got two of my game tapes so then I called back about a week later and they told me they will have a scholarship for me. I was really excited."

Shaw, who hasn't spoken to his dad in a long time, said he has a father figure in his life that set him up with a flight down to Miami last week.

"I went down there and had a great time," he said. "It was like a vacation for myself. I met with the coaches, watched practice, and did that whole thing. The next day I went to a quarterbacks meeting and met some more of the players. I felt really comfortable around everyone. Watching practice and being around the players, I could see that everyone on that team shares a common goal and that's to win a national championship. That's why they're there. I left there believing that I would love to play for Dan Werner because I can relate to him so well. Really, all the coaches were really straight forward and honest with me and that meant a lot."

While on his visit, Shaw spent some time watching UM's young quarterbacks during practice.

"A lot of people talk about how highly rated Kyle and Kirby were," he said. "I wanted to watch them. I've never really had a chance to watch quarterbacks at the college level up close like that in a practice setting. I needed that because after watching them, I really believe I can compete with them. They're both very talented and they work hard. I think I can bring that to the table as well. I'm not afraid of anyone's competition and I'll work just as hard as the next guy. I really like the challenge that's ahead of me."

After leaving town, Shaw said he started getting a strong feeling that Miami's the place for him.

"I talked to my family back home and wanted to see if it was right," he said. "I did some research. They're obviously very successful. They had six first round draft picks just off last year's team. The school is excellent. The city, there's a lot of fun things to do. The entire atmosphere there is what I'm looking for. That's why it all felt right so I went ahead, called them up, and committed."

Shaw, who turned down over a dozen scholarship offers to choose UM, said he's excited about his future.

"I'm really looking forward to working with the Miami coaches and being around a group of players that are so hungry," he said. "That's what I'm all about. They love competition there and they love winning. I think it's a perfect match."

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