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Flowery Branch grads, brothers translate high school stardom into college football success

POSTED: August 27, 2011 7:19 p.m.
University of South Carolina Sports Communication/

Connor Shaw drops back to pass in a game last season

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When Jaybo Shaw’s phone rings during the day down in Statesboro, he has a good idea it’s his younger brother, Connor, on the other end calling to chat.

Both of these Flowery Branch High graduates that are separated by only two years share a very close bond that’s made even more special by the fact they are both quarterbacks with major college football programs.

Jaybo is entering his senior season as the starting quarterback at Georgia Southern University, while Connor is entering his sophomore season as a quarterback at the University of South Carolina.

Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has not yet announced whether Shaw or Stephen Garcia will be their starting quarterback against East Carolina on Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

"I talk with Jaybo three or four times a day," Connor said after Thursday’s practice in Columbia, S.C. "He’s been my best friend since I was little and I always know I can ask him about anything."

The family dynamic between these two runs deep.

They both say the conversation sometimes centers around football. Jaybo already has three years of college experience reading defenses under his belt, after spending his first two years at Georgia Tech, which is valuable information to share with his younger brother.

But more often than not, their talks have nothing to do with football, the sport both have excelled at since they were youngsters learning the game from their father, Flowery Branch coach Lee Shaw.

Jaybo says he still cracks up thinking about times when Connor would joke with their father and try to get under his skin at school. Connor has always had the more extraverted nature, according to big brother.

Meanwhile, Jaybo was the one that paved the road for their success in high school as Falcons quarterback from 2004-2007.

When Jaybo was quarterback, Connor was a promising young wide receiver as a freshman and sophomore in 2006-07, who could have played that position in college too.

Most of their favorite high school memories were when they were on the field together. Jaybo recalls his junior season and the day their grandfather died, they each scored a pair of touchdowns that same night against Lumpkin County. A memory like that neither will ever forget.

Also, Jaybo had the privilege of throwing Connor his first high school touchdown; that’s an experience most brothers don’t get to share.

Connor inherited the started QB job at Flowery Branch in 2008 during its trip to the Class AAA state title game, and then, in 2009, the Falcons made the state semifinals. They also have countless stories of playing sports together in epic backyard matchups as kids.

But now that they’re in college, Jaybo has the perspective on the game that he can share with Connor. He makes sure to remind him regularly to enjoy it every day, because, sooner than you expect, it will all be over.

"I’m just very proud of Connor and how he handles himself," Jaybo said. "He’s a very special player and was meant to be a quarterback."

And Connor looks up to Jaybo’s ability to bounce off defenders and keep on going in Georgia Southern’s run-first, triple-option offense. He’s taking a hit on almost every single play whether it be a keep, pitch or dive.

As a junior, Jaybo Shaw fit right in with the Eagles and passed for 1,233 yards and was the program’s second-leading rusher with 514 yards and 17 touchdowns.

"I try to be like Jaybo with the way he carries himself on the field," Connor said. "He’s the toughest dude I know."

Meanwhile, Connor jumped right in for the SEC East champion Gamecocks in 2010 with almost 400 yards of combined offense in a backup role. He’d love to take it a step further this season and help do whatever he can to take South Carolina to a conference title.

He says that enrolling in college early in the winter of 2010 was a huge bonus to get an extra spring practice under his belt and start learning the offense and its bulky playbook.

"All I’m worrying about is preparing so I can help the team the best I can when I’m called on to go in the game," Connor said. "The time I’ve had on campus so far has helped me a lot and I’m just constantly trying to get better."

At this point, there’s really no hierarchy for the Shaw brothers with regards to age. They each have a tremendous amount of admiration for how the other plays.

"We’re both living out our dream right now," said Connor.

Another special thing about this season is that Jaybo and Connor will get to see each other in action, something not possible last year as their bye weeks fell on the same dates.

Jaybo will get to visit South Carolina to see his brother play against Navy on Sept. 17, while Connor will return the favor and visit Statesboro on Oct. 22 for Georgia Southern’s game against Presbyterian.

And when college is all over, they’re both majoring in business administration with a career goal to be just like their father and coach high school football.

"It’s been a dream come true to see all their hard work pay off has been a blessing for us all," said Lee Shaw. "It’s a privilege watching them play on Saturdays."

 



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