Peach State quarterback names new leader

South Carolina played host to a star-studded crop of recruits on Saturday for its annual junior day event, and one of the top quarterback prospects in the southeast was among those on campus. Flowery Branch (GA) elite signal-caller Connor Shaw made his first ever trip to Columbia, and the Peach State product enjoyed his time at USC so much that he left campus with a new leader for his services.

The 6-2, 195 pound Shaw, who boasts offers from South Carolina, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Wake Forest, and Stanford, made the three hour drive to Columbia on Saturday and was blown away by all that the Gamecocks have to offer.

"It was great. It was my first time to Columbia, and I pretty much fell in love with the place. Columbia was great, the campus was great, and the facilities were amazing. I just had a great time, " Shaw said. "I never knew that their facilities were that new, and I had no idea what the campus lifestyle was like. I really like what they have to offer academically with the great business program. I just wanted to get a feel for what they have to offer, and I think I really got that yesterday. It was great."

Shaw noted that the atmosphere around town and the passion of Gamecock fans he encountered made a big impression on him during his visit.

"It's a traditional college town. I'm from a traditional place, and my parents are from a traditional place. That really stuck out to me. I've never been to a place that's more committed to their college. I was walking around Columbia, and everybody had South Carolina stuff on. It was really neat."

Another major aspect of the trip that stood out to Shaw was his meeting with head coach Steve Spurrier, who he grew up idolizing.

"I got the chance to talk with Coach Spurrier in his office. He was an idol of mine when I was a little kid, so that was really neat," he said. "We talked about what he expects and the quarterbacks that he has now. It's really exciting that I could come in and have the opportunity to contribute within the first two years on campus. He told me G.A. Mangus is bringing in a little more shotgun, and that's what I think fits me best. They're also bringing in more zone-read option when they're in the gun. They said I'm a perfect fit for what they're bringing in, so that's really exciting."

Shaw, who is the younger brother of Georgia Tech quarterback Jaybo Shaw, has known South Carolina quarterback coach G.A. Mangus for several years, and he had a great time interacting with his potential future position coach during his time in Columbia.

"I got a chance to spend a lot of time with the quarterback coach G.A. Mangus. After the junior day was over, he actually drove me around campus and took me to the basketball game. It was a real great time," he said. "When Coach Mangus was at Middle Tennessee State, he recruited my brother. My brother actually committed there (before switching to home-state Georgia Tech), and he and my brother had a great relationship, as well as him and my family. I knew Coach Mangus earlier in my high school career, so when he came to South Carolina it was kind of perfect. We have a great relationship, and it just worked out perfectly with him coming to Columbia."

Shaw had previously listed home-state Georgia Tech as the frontrunner for his services, but after his trip to South Carolina the dual-threat quarterback has a new school on top.

"South Carolina is definitely on top now. They were up there on the list before I went, but I came out of South Carolina with a new leader. That's where they're staying for now."

The standout quarterback also commented on the other schools that are still on his radar right now.

"Georgia Tech is probably the second team on my list right now. Then I'm also looking at West Virginia and Wake Forest. I'm really looking forward to going up to West Virginia because they have the style offense I like. I really like their quarterbacks coach and Bill Stewart. That will be fun to make the trip up there. I think I'm going up to Wake Forest in April for a spring practice. I'll also be making a junior day trip to Georgia. It's going to be an interesting couple of months."

Shaw plans to graduate from high school early and enroll at the school of his choice in January, so he is aiming to make a final decision by the end of the summer in order to concentrate on his senior year.

"I want to make the decision before my senior year because I don't want any distractions. I'm graduating early after the fall semester, so I'd like to have a decision before my senior year," he noted. "What I'm looking for is to play for a great coaching staff, and of course I'll look at what the school has to offer academically. It's going to be a tough choice."

In his junior season, Shaw, who describes himself as a "true dual-threat quarterback," passed for 2,200 yards and 22 touchdowns, while rushing for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He plans to make a return trip to Columbia for South Carolina's Garnet and Black Spring Game on April 11th. He also plans to attend one of the Gamecocks' summer prospect camps.

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