August 30, 2010

Shaw thankful for the chance to start at corner

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Over the summer, it was thought to be pretty clear that senior DeAngelo Wilkinson would slide from the starting nickelback for Colorado State into the No. 2 cornerback role. What most people didn't expect was for redshirt sophomore Marcus Shaw to leapfrog Wilkinson on the depth chart.

Shaw, who stands at 5-foot-8, 198 pounds, didn't see much significant playing time during the 2009 season when the Rams finished 3-9 outside of special teams. He did play during mop-up duty against Nevada and TCU along with limited action against Wyoming, but that experience, on top of hard work this offseason, has Shaw in line to start at cornerback opposite of Momo Thomas.

Currently listed as a starting cornerback on the CSU depth chart, Shaw totaled five tackles and one quarterback hurry in 11 games played during the 2009 season, statistics that are significantly lower than Wilkinson's numbers from a year ago. Last season, Wilkinson had 27 tackles in only eight games played along with three pass break ups.

So how'd Shaw do it?

"I just worked on the basic things, you know, like the back-pedal and concentration," Shaw said. "Just had to work on those small things to help me get better in each and every aspect of my game."

Perhaps also expediting Shaw's venture up the depth chart was the unexpected departure of corners Brandon Owens and Dru Taylor over the summer. Taylor was the player most said was the Rams' next-best corerback behind Wilkinson.

Whether the offeason moves helped Shaw or not, he's thankful for circumstances.

"It's a great feeling, I've come a long way," said Shaw, a graduate of Duncanville High School in the Dallas area. "I just thank God because it's a blessing to be out here and to be able to play. I'm happy for myself."

And even while proving himself worthy of being a starter for the time being, CSU head coach Steve Fairchild has said over the years that no job is permanent. Shaw said he's keeping that in mind, especially with a player like Wilkinson breathing down his neck.

"Always, always. That's how you always have to feel," he said when asked if he's worried someone will take his starting spot. "It's always competition out there, knowing someone is trying to take your spot. Because really, that's how I was, trying to take someone else's spot. That's just how it is."

Shaw will have his first opportunity to prove that the Rams' coaching staff made the right to decision to start the sophomore when CSU faces Colorado on Saturday in Denver at Invesco Field.

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