Bryson Shaw’s lacrosse career at the Bullis School couldn’t have ended in a better way.
At last week’s GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals, Bullis won back-to-back games against Hill Academy (Ontario) and Salisbury School (Connecticut) to win a national championship, allowing Shaw to finish his lacrosse career on top.
Shaw was one of the best high school lacrosse players in the country, and he could have played the sport at one of the top college programs in the nation if he wanted to.
Instead, he is setting his lacrosse stick aside for the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream of playing college football.
Shaw emerged as one of the top lacrosse recruits in his class when he was just a freshman in high school, and committed to his home-state school Maryland to play that sport. After his sophomore season of football, however, Shaw started to receive offers to play college football at ACC schools, such as Virginia, Syracuse and Duke. When he started to receive football offers from Big Ten schools the following summer, Shaw knew which sport he would play at the next level.
“Growing up at a young age, since I can really remember, I’ve been running through the hallways, throwing the football to myself,” Shaw, who is set to graduate from the Bullis School on Monday and enroll at Ohio State on Tuesday, told Eleven Warriors over the weekend. “The first team I really fell in love with was the Florida Gators, when Coach Meyer was there and Tim Tebow was there, and I would just picture myself being like Tim Tebow running around the hallways and stuff like that. And so, I always had this big dream of playing college football … when college football offers started rolling around, I immediately knew I wanted to play college football. It’s always been the biggest dream of mine.”
Shaw made his initial football commitment to Wisconsin in January 2018.
Soon after, though, Shaw received an offer from Ohio State and built a relationship with Alex Grinch – Ohio State’s new safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator at the time – and the rest of the Buckeyes’ coaching staff and players, forcing Shaw to rethink his commitment.
“When I committed to Wisconsin, I didn’t have the offer from Ohio State yet. Ohio State was my dream school. It was the school I was waiting for. I didn’t think it was really going to pan out. And then Coach Grinch came in, and he called me like immediately once he got on campus and he said like, ‘You need to give me a chance,’” Shaw said. “So I gave him a chance, I went on a visit. Family feel, I just felt it; as soon as I walked in the building, the greatness, the brotherhood, and it was like almost impossible to turn down.”
Shaw officially flipped his commitment to Ohio State in April and never looked back, signing with the Buckeyes in December.
The multi-sport high school star isn’t completely done playing lacrosse yet; he’s set to participate in next month’s Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic, where he will be the only participant that isn’t playing the sport at the collegiate level. He has no plans to play lacrosse at Ohio State, however, as he plans to fully shift his attention toward playing for one of the top football programs in the country.
“Like I said before, that’s my big dream, and I just want to give all my focus in that and I’m going to give it everything I got,” Shaw said.
“When college football offers started rolling around, I immediately knew I wanted to play college football. It’s always been the biggest dream of mine.”– Bryson Shaw on his decision to play college football over lacrosse
Rated as a three-star prospect in 247Sports’ composite rankings, Shaw comes to Ohio State as a 6-foot-2, 175-pound defensive back who expects to primarily play safety but could also cross-train at other spots in the secondary.
“They see me as a versatile athlete,” Shaw said. “I’ll do whatever they ask of me.”
Shaw acknowledged that it was hard to learn that he would not have the opportunity to play for Grinch, who is now the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma after just one year at Ohio State. That disappointment quickly faded, however, after new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley accompanied new head coach Ryan Day and returning defensive line coach Larry Johnson on a visit to Shaw’s home soon after Hafley was hired.
“Coach Hafley, I loved him as soon as I started talking to him,” Shaw said. “We had a really good bond from the start, and I cannot wait to get to work with that guy. Me and him are really close, and I’m just so pumped that he’s the guy that took over that position and I think he’s an excellent coach.”
In joining the Ohio State football team after graduating from the Bullis School, Shaw has huge footsteps to follow. Shaw’s high school became famous to Ohio State fans last year when fellow Bullis product Dwayne Haskins had a record-setting season in his lone season as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. That might put a little more pressure on Shaw, but he’s excited to have the chance to build upon the Bullis legacy in Columbus.
Shaw said he texts with Haskins regularly and that Haskins is always happy to answer any questions he has.
“Like I tell him all the time, I’m so pumped to get up there and continue to put the Bullis on the map, and it just means everything to me and I know it means everything to him to be able to put a whole community on the map and really give them popularity and show where we’re from,” Shaw said. “Just to see all the hard work he’s put in, and I know if I can do the same thing he does, put my mind to it and work as hard as I can, I can have the chance and the opportunity to achieve my NFL dream just like he did, and he is an extremely inspiring person to me.”
While Shaw probably could have been an immediate contributor on the lacrosse field for any school in the country, he’ll have to battle just to get on the field at Ohio State. Ranked as the 576th overall player in the class of 2019, Shaw isn’t one of the more highly touted prospects in Ohio State’s incoming crop of freshmen.
That said, Shaw isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
“I’m a fiery dude,” Shaw said. “I always have this chip on my shoulder, and you’ll see it when I play. I just want (Ohio State fans) to know that I won’t back down from anything, that I’m a tough person and I love contact.
“They should see a really tough kid with a chip on his shoulder. They should see a lot of speed and someone who’s not scared of contact. Do whatever it takes to get the big play done, and I definitely won’t take a play off. You’ll never see me take a play off.”
Shaw believes his experience playing lacrosse has helped make him a better football player, too.
“Some people said before I played lacrosse this year, ‘You know, you should really focus on practicing your DB skills and everything,’ and it’s funny, I tell them all the time, ‘Have you ever seen a midfielder try and cover an offensive midfielder?’ It’s relatively the same as covering a wide receiver,” Shaw said. “These midfielders that I go against are some of the best midfielders in the country. They’re fast, extremely athletic ... they’re some of the best finesse guys in the country. So the footwork reps is the same as playing DB in terms of covering an offensive opponent.”
Shaw is one of just two defensive backs in Ohio State’s freshman class of 2019, along with fellow safety Ronnie Hickman, who enrolled in January but is recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered during his senior season of high school football.