Last year around this time, Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley defensive tackle Travis Shaw was being courted by over two dozen schools from around the country.
Now, the five-star prospect has narrowed his focus to a smaller group of programs – including Clemson, which continues to pursue him as a priority target in the class of 2022.
The Clemson Insider visited Grimsley High School in Greensboro on Tuesday to catch up with Shaw and also spoke with his head football coach, Darryl Brown, about Shaw’s recruitment and much more.
“About a year ago, it was probably 25, 30 different schools,” Brown said of how many programs Shaw was hearing from. “But he’s tried to narrow that list down a little bit. Obviously you have the ones that people talk about all the time, such as Clemson and here in-state, North Carolina. We hear from them quite a bit. He has a good connection with Georgia and Ohio State, just to name a couple more.
“There’s been several different schools, but those four have probably kind of gotten a little ahead of everyone else a little bit. But Travis has a lot of great opportunities in front of him, and I know he’ll make the right choice.”
Defensive tackles coach Todd Bates is leading the charge for Clemson in Shaw’s recruitment after playing a key role in helping the Tigers land another top defensive tackle from Greensboro, Payton Page, in the 2021 class.
Bates has had Shaw squarely in his sights for quite some time and has built a good bond with Shaw and his coach.
“Coach Bates is awesome,” Brown said. “He’s been a great recruiter here in this area, and we’ve developed a good relationship with him the last few years. I think a lot of him. He’s very genuine and very honest with us all the time. I know Travis has enjoyed his time with Coach Bates and speaking with him, so it’s been a pleasure to get to know him through this process.”
The recruiting scene has been dramatically altered by COVID-19 over the past year since the NCAA dead period was implemented last March, precluding in-person contact between prospects and college coaches.
As Shaw tries to navigate the process without being able to visit campuses or build relationships with coaches face-to-face, Brown has a simple message for Shaw and other players on his team being recruited by various schools.
“I just tell them just to kind of go by their gut, what feels right to them,” Brown said. “And Travis is a smart guy. He knows, talking with different schools and different coaches, what feels right and who he has a connection with, and he’s just going to trust his instinct and go with what’s best for him and his family.”
While COVID-19 has impacted recruiting, Brown doesn’t think it has hindered Shaw’s development as a player a bit.
“I haven’t seen it hurt it at all,” he said. “Travis is a guy that when he’s away from here, works extremely hard on his own. He stays in the weight room and his conditioning is good. Playing basketball nonstop helps with that and helps with his cardio.
“But it hasn’t hurt it at all. We’ve done a lot of different meetings and things as far as what we do with our packages and things, so our coaches do a great job of teaching up our system, and he’s always engaged in that stuff. So, his development in the past year, it really hasn’t hurt it at all.”
Brown sees a very bright future ahead for Shaw – a two-sport standout who also plays basketball at Grimsley High – and believes he could line up at defensive tackle or defensive end at the next level.
“Moving along in the future, I think he’s a guy that can play multiple positions up front,” Brown said. “He can play nose, interior defensive line, or he’s athletic enough to play on the edge as well. I know a lot of guys talk about that. He’s very athletic for his size. He stands at 6-6, 330 right now but moves really well, and just a very intelligent player. Understands the game really well and what offenses are trying to do.
“So, I think the sky’s the limit for him, and I know he’s going to continue to work hard and just continue to progress each and every year.”
Off the field, Shaw is beloved by his teammates and friends and is an energetic person other people enjoy spending time with.
“Travis, guys gravitate to him,” Brown said. “He just has an infectious spirit about him, and he can relate to all kind of people, and he has different friends and different groups of people that he hangs out with. So, he’s fun to be around. He has a lot of energy, a lot of excitement all the time and just enjoys, like I said, being here at school with different groups of people and being involved in different things.”
Shaw is the No. 1 prospect in the state of North Carolina, No. 2 defensive tackle in the country and No. 8 overall prospect in the 2022 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Through the first two games of his junior season this spring, Shaw has posted 17 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks. As a sophomore in 2019, he amassed 104 tackles, including 16 for loss and 11 sacks.
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