Tim Shaw: I grew up in Michigan, right outside of Detroit, a place called Livonia and I just have a great family. I have three brothers, one is older and probably going to get married, he's a music teacher and my two younger brothers are twins; one is finishing up school at Albion (College) and one is finishing up at Saginaw Valley State (University) and those are both in Michigan. They both played football at those schools, but they're done now as well. Just a great mom and dad and a great family all together; we're really close.
ET: You're often complimented for having a great work ethic and described as having a "blue collar" work ethic…where did that come from?
TS: It's something that my parents instilled in me. And
then my high school football coach really showed me
what it takes to put that into football; not just in practice, but in running
and the weight room and all that type of stuff. He took me from being just
a great athlete to someone who just works to be the best and not to be
complacent. Then when I got to Penn State he would constantly remind me
"hey, when those guys are walking to the next drill, you don't walk, that'll
set you apart" and it really did.
ET: You're the only Penn State player to win the Total Commitment Award and the Most Improved Defensive Player Award…what's that mean to you?
TS: It means a lot, and I joke with my friends and family that "I always win the nice guy awards, I'd rather be an All-American". But it just goes back to my family. I come from a great family and I'm proud to represent them in that positive way. And it means a lot to me to win the Commitment Award. It shows the effort I've given and the leadership I have and the type of guy I want to be in general in life. And it shows the kind of effort I give towards football. I'm proud of those awards and to be the only guy…that's a big honor.
ET: You scored 130 touchdowns as a running back in high school. Is that the position you thought you'd be playing when you got to Penn State?
TS: I was a running back and a linebacker
in high school, but the thing was I was scoring touchdowns left and right, so I thought I was going to be a running
back. I thought that
was my purpose as a player, to carry the ball and score touchdowns. But everyone who recruited me said "we think you're
going to be a linebacker". Penn State said the same thing, but they gave me a chance
at running back, so I played there for a season before they brought in three stud running backs
and moved me to the defensive side.
ET: Let's talk about your career at Penn State after you switched to the defensive side of the ball and the skill and versatility you've gained…
TS: During the spring of my sophomore season, I learned every
linebacker position. Then I was the starting middle linebacker my whole sophomore year. I finally
picked up and started to get comfortable, and then in my junior year one of the
other starting linebackers got in trouble and he played the weakside outside spot.
And at that time (head coach) Joe (Paterno) had said this guy might be out for the season,
so they felt more
comfortable moving me to the outside and bringing my backup to start in the
middle. So now I'm starting on the outside for the
first four games, and then Joe lets this guy out of the doghouse and they give
him his spot back. So now I'm sort of playing some of middle and outside, he's
playing some at outside, the other guy's playing some at middle, and I end up playing two spots
for the duration of that season. I eventually ended up back in the
middle and he was back at outside so it ended up the way it should have started.
That year I had a great year, I got a lot better, felt a lot more comfortable at
linebacker in general and was ready to just be as good as I could be my senior
ET: But then you found out you were moving again, right?
TS: The first day of preseason camp my senior year, I go in and have a meeting with the linebacker coach and he proceeds to tell me "hey, we have some concerns with our depth at end and we have a lot of good linebackers. Joe wants to run a 3-4 type of look and we think you're the best man for this type of rush-end spot." Honestly, it was a blow at first. I was ready to do great things at linebacker. But I kept learning and learning and learning. It was a great experience for me as a player. And as a person it was humbling, and it made me really keep working and learning. I played all over, and bottom line was I tried to get to the ball and made plays no matter where I was on the field. I was just trying to help the team out.
|(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)|
TS: I hope it's seen as a positive and not as "we didn't get to see this kid play his best football." I know in my heart that my best football is ahead of me because I didn't get the chance to excel at the level I wanted to my senior year.
ET: You certainly learned how to shed blocks well by working from the rush DE spot, which is a critical skill for linebackers at the pro level...
TS: Yeah, and even more than shedding blocks, our defensive line coach taught me a lot about pass rushing; using my hands more and so many different techniques that I hadn't really worked on before. So I definitely benefited from that. I've learned a lot of technique and a lot of leverage going against those monsters everyday.
ET: Despite being involved in all of this action and changes, you didn't have any significant injuries besides an ankle sprain that caused you to miss two games…
TS: Yeah, I've been very blessed, God's been looking out for me and has kept me real healthy and I'm thankful for that.
ET: One stat that jumped out at me was you have 47 hits to stop a team's scoring drive on 3rd down and 9 stops on 4th downs. You're a guy that likes to be in the middle of things when it's a key play, aren't you?
TS: I love 3rd down and I love 4th down. "Let's get off the field," that's what we would always say. And that's the critical time where if there's a play to be made you had to make it. I think I made a lot of those plays because earlier in my career at Penn State there were times where I was getting pulled out on 3rd down. When you get pulled out at the critical moment and you think you're the best guy in there to make that play, that's when you've got to show that you're a difference- maker type of guy when you do get the opportunity.
ET: Let me get some reactions to some comments I've heard about you like this one ... "plays bigger than his size…"
TS: That might partly be because of the size of guys I was working against up on the line. If they were talking about my hitting, I'd say I'm more of a sure tackler than a big hitter, but I'll take that comment any day.
ET: Charlie Weis at Notre Dame reportedly said you were "the Lion's most important player."
TS: Wow, well that's just flattering. I don't know take that, but it's a compliment that makes me appreciate the sacrifice I made for the team. And I'm grateful that other teams look at me as an important player on the defense. It's good to be someone they need to keep an eye on.
ET: I've got one more for you: "unsung hero…"
TS: I've heard that a number of times. I'm not a hero, but I try to be a leader to this team and be a servant to this team. Whatever needs to be done I want to do it. And I want to bring guys along with me and get things done the right way.
ET: Tell us a little bit about your relationship with Paul Posluszny at Penn State…
TS: The main thing about Paul is he's the one guy at Penn State who pushed me. When I took it above and beyond in the way of conditioning and lifting, he was the guy who was right there pushing me above and beyond where I was. And he's been the one person who I've seen work and work and work -- and has made me want to work even harder. The relationship there is one of great respect; he and I, we relate in a lot of ways of life and we can talk about anything. We're not that close of friends, but especially on the field we can just relate and look to each other and know the work we put in. When it came to a critical point in the game, he'd look at me and I'd look at him. And either I knew I had to pick it up or he knew he had to pick it up or we knew we had to get the guys around us to be able to pick it up. We both had the leadership and we both knew that we put in the time and effort to be great players.
ET: Talk about your special teams experience and how you see your skills translating at the pro level…
TS: It's one of those things that as a young guy at college you think "I'll do whatever I have to do to get on the field" and that's actually how I looked at it every year. Over my four years, I was on at least one special team every game and usually I was on two or three. During my junior year, I went to the coaches and said "put me in on kickoffs, I'm still not tired when the game's over so I want to do more." It'll be the same way at the next level, I'll do whatever I have to do to get on the field.
ET: How much fun did you have playing in the Hula Bowl this year?
TS: The game was a lot of fun and I met some good guys. It felt good to get back and play linebacker again, so on a personal level that was great for me. The travel out there was rough, it was a long trip there and back and I didn't want to miss a couple days of training here, but it was overall a good experience for me, some good exposure and overall it was fun.
ET: You're training primarily at middle linebacker with Tom Shaw down in Florida, right?
TS: Yeah, linebacker is primarily where I'm going to get looked at. But whether it's inside or outside that's debatable. I'm working mostly at linebacker and I'm just trying to improve my footwork and drops and everything like that that can help you no matter what position you're playing at.
ET: What else do you want people to know about you?
TS: I'm a reliable guy who, as a football player, just loves to play so therefore I work as hard as I can. When it comes to the pro level they're not only getting someone who can play the game or someone who loves it, they'll be getting someone who is going to give everything they have to it. You don't want to have someone who's a great athlete and a great football player, but may not be there every day. So that's what I think I bring. I have the athletic ability and the football awareness, but I'm also a reliable type of guy.