Former Gamecock Connor Shaw instructs Ayden Hardee during football camp at the Kroc Center Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.
Connor Shaw has always wanted to be a coach.
Saturday gave the former University of South Carolina quarterback the opportunity to do what loves — coach young children at the Connor Shaw ESM Football Camp.
Shaw, now a Greenville resident, spent time with every group assembled at the Kroc Center.
During his few breaks, he shook hands and took pictures with Gamecocks fans who were everywhere in an attempt to get a better look and a little time with the program’s winningest quarterback.
“This is much more fun, being out here with the kids,” said Shaw, who just returned from Cleveland, where he’s beginning his second season with the NFL’s Browns. “Now I’m getting the opportunity. We’re having a blast out here.”
A lot of happened with the Browns since Shaw left Cleveland at the end of the 2014 season. Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer is awaiting free agency, and the franchise’s first-round draft choice a year ago, Johnny Manziel, is in rehab for treatment of undisclosed problems.
Shaw, who signed a two-year contract with the Browns before starting the team’s final game of the 2014 season, remains focused on making sure he does what is necessary to become an option for the team when offseason training begins.
“I spent the weekend there,” Shaw said. “It was really cold, so I’m kind of glad I’m back south. I was able to get back in the other facility, get familiar with it and keep in contact with the coaches and the new coaches.
“I had to go through a physical. We didn’t sit down and talk about what was going to happen, quarterback situation-wise, but that’s their job, not mine. I’m not really worried about it.”
For the time being, Shaw and his family is enjoying life in Greenville. While many consider the Upstate to be Clemson country, Shaw feels right at home.
“When I decided to come up here, some of my family members were like, ‘You’re going to go to Clemson territory. You sure you want to do that?’ ” Shaw said, smiling. “I responded, ‘I don’t have anything to worry about. I took care of them for the last four years, so they don’t have anything to say to me.’
“But it’s all fun and games. I’m good friends with all the Clemson players I’ve played against, a good friend of (former Clemson quarterback) Tajh (Boyd). It’s all fun. Honestly, all the Clemson fans I’ve encountered have been very supportive of me. They have followed my career a little bit.”
Holding camp in Greenville for the second consecutive year, Shaw is following in the footsteps of former Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore, who also worked with Everett Sports Marketing after entering the NFL. Lattimore’s pro career ended without his playing; he retired this past season after trying for more than a year to rehab from a serious knee injury sustained in his junior season at USC.
“I just feel privileged to have played with him for a couple years,” Shaw said of Lattimore. “For him to go on to the NFL and then hang them up and doing what he is, being an ambassador for the University of South Carolina, I think it is fitting for him.
“He is the face of the university. He represents what South Carolina is all about. I have never seen a guy persevere through so much adversity as he does. He is someone I can learn from. He is just a great guy to be around.
“Anybody who comes in touch with Marcus and is able to hang out with him is going to be a better person because of it.”