Jordan Shaw watches as much football as possible.
Georgia and Falcons games mostly, but if he has the time, football usually is on somewhere around him.
He watches not just because he loves the sport, but also to learn.
As Shorter’s starting free safety, Shaw wants to continue improving on his abilities.
He’s not about to rest on a season in which he led the Gulf South Conference with eight interceptions, was voted the conference’s defensive player of the year and was selected to the American Football Coaches Association Division II All-America first team, the first such honor for a Shorter player.
“For us to continue building this program on the Division II level, we need a player like that to step forward and have an influence on the other players,” Shorter coach Phil Jones said. “We’re excited for him. The (Gulf South) award didn’t fall in his hands. To earn it on a team that was 3-8 … the head coaches voted for him, which tells you an awful lot about what he did.”
Shaw also is a finalist for the second annual Cliff Harris Award, which goes to the nation’s top small college defensive player. He’s one of 38 Division II, 18 Division III and 14 NAIA players nominated for the award.
The winner will be announced Christmas Eve and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club in February.
“You hear about a player being an extension of you on the field. That’s what Jordan does,” Shorter defensive coordinator Julius Dixon said. “He wants to know every little thing that will help him be the best player he can be. He had a remarkable season.”
Shaw is a junior from Jasper who was recruited as a quarterback, and was a reserve at that position in 2012. Jones and his staff loved his size (6 feet 2, 215 pounds), intelligence and instincts, so they moved him to free safety, a position he also played at Pickens County High School.
He led the Hawks with 40 solo tackles and two interceptions in 2013, setting himself up for this fall.
Dixon was hired last February and installed a 3-5-3 defense, which allowed Shaw to roam the middle of the field, like a center fielder in baseball, as the only safety.
“I felt really comfortable back there this year,” Shaw said. “Playing (in 2013) prepared me for this season. I think playing quarterback in high school gives me an advantage. I try to read the offense and visualize what they’re doing.”
Shaw began the season with two interceptions against Paine and then picked off three more passes in a victory over Mars Hill, returning one 100 yards for touchdown.
He had two more interceptions against Delta State and led the NCAA (FBS, FCS, Division II and III) with eight by the second week of October.
Shaw finished the season as Shorter’s top tackler with 53 solo and 89 total.
“Jordan is just very determined, in practice, in games, or whatever he does,” Jones said. “He is one of those people who wants to be the very best, and he pushes himself hard to do that. He’s an outstanding free safety in terms of tackles, coming up and supporting the run and making plays all over the field. That was evidenced by all the interceptions he had.”
Shaw is spending the Christmas break working out at his former high school and looking to improve on several areas, including his footwork, speed and overall strength.
“Once you start working hard, you want to get the most out of yourself,” he said. “This isn’t about individual awards. It’s about the team and getting the most out of yourself as you can.”