August 26, 2012

Shaw doesn't mind being the forgotten man

For a guy who is continually overlooked, Kenny Shaw is generally not very difficult to spot.

Despite being listed at just 6-foot, 170 pounds, Shaw can be picked out of a crowd easily due to the fact that his wardrobe features an assortment of florescent colors usually reserved for Office Max's highlighter aisle.

Shaw, who also has a unique haircut called the gumby (a high-top fade that leans to the left like the cartoon character gumby's head), said his style comes from living in Chicago early in his life.

"I would say my style came from up north, retro," Shaw said. "I just like to be different. (My teammates) tell me all the time I'm the only one that can pull it off, so I guess that's a compliment."

Last season Shaw got everyone's attention during the third week of the season as he took a vicious hit against Oklahoma on national television as he was sandwiched by two Sooner defenders and had to leave the game.

Shaw has watched film of the hit just twice, and downplayed how violent of a collision it was. The OU hit was not the only time during the season Shaw was on the wrong end of a crushing blow, but it was the only time he didn't pop up immediately.

"That came from childhood I would say with my Mom," Shaw said. "I would get pushed down (playing with other kids) and she'd just tell me to get back up. The enemy likes to see you weak and I just like to focus on just staying mentally tough, not showing any emotion because that's what they'll read off of."

Despite lying motionless on the field for a few minutes and leaving a stretcher, Shaw played just one week later against Clemson, and had two catches for 20 yards. His toughness earned him plenty of cache in the locker room.

"Kenny Shaw's a tough guy," junior safety Lamarcus Joyner says with a smile. "We always pick on him, say he's very fragile, but he can take a big hit and get right back up. We kind of give him a hard time about that, taking those big hits, he's got to learn how to ball up. But he gives the guys around him confidence, knowing that he's a tough guy."

Ironically while Shaw's clothes and his ability to bounce back draw plenty of attention, it's his production as a receiver that flies under the radar.

Last season Shaw was third on the team with 34 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns. Despite his 2011 numbers, since the season ended he has been overlooked as Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and other receivers have received more offseason hype.

But as Shaw himself pointed out, as long as quarterback EJ Manuel doesn't forget about him then nothing else really matters. Manuel overlooking Shaw doesn't seem likely.

The pair has a chemistry that was cultivated during 2010 practices, as they worked together with the No. 2 offense on fields opposite of Christian Ponder and the starters. Manuel is always quick to mention Shaw's ability as a route runner.

"He runs those double-moves really good, sells his fakes and all that kind of stuff, and gives me a trigger of when to throw the ball and let it go for him," Manuel said. "He can really accelerate and go catch it."

Shaw has been lauded for his precise routes since he was a four-star prospect out of Orlando Dr. Phillips High School. The junior credits his work in the film room for his ability to find holes in the defense.

With a plethora of depth in the receiving corps, it's possible that Shaw's numbers could drop in 2012. A fact he said he's fine with, saying he's a team player who just wants to win this season so he doesn't mind being the oddly dressed forgotten man of the receiving corps.

"I just focus on winning and doing whatever it takes," he said. "Because I'm a team player and on Saturdays they'll see it."

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