Superstar student Shaw is the model role model
By John MabryMom and Dad, it's OK to buy those No. 12 Bobby Newcombe jerseys for the kids. And if they want to idolize Eric Crouch, fine. Newcombe and Crouch are both excellent role models.
But if you're taking the little Huskers to Saturday's game, make sure you tell them about Brian Shaw, the senior linebacker who wears No. 46.
He's what it's all about.
In a little more than four years at Nebraska, Shaw has been a significant contributor to the football program.
He came to NU from Sandy Creek High as a walk-on in 1995. After redshirting his first year, Shaw played in every game for the '96 Huskers. He started eight games for the NU team that won a national championship in 1997. He had 39 tackles in '98 and has six this season while sharing time with fellow senior Tony Ortiz.
But football stats reveal little about Brian Shaw. They don't tell you there's something Shaw hits harder than quarterbacks.
Few student-athletes have left the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a record of academic excellence close to what Shaw is putting together. In December, he will graduate with bachelor's degrees in animal science and agricultural economics.
His cumulative grade-point average is 4.0. Not 3.87. Not 3.92.
I'm no animal scientist, but I believe that means Shaw has been perfect in the classroom for four years.
The story behind the student is just as clean. When you think about it, it's really the story of Big Red football as it's supposed to be.
Farm boy leaves small Nebraska town (Deweese), walks on at NU, helps Huskers win national championship, excels in the classroom, excels in the community, has day named in his honor.
Yes, it will be "Brian Shaw Day" at Memorial Stadium on Saturday when the Huskers host Oklahoma State. Shaw will be honored as a Burger King College Football Scholar Athlete before the game. The fast-food corporation will present $10,000 to the university's general scholarship fund in Shaw's name.
More proof that Steve and Kathy Shaw did all right with Brian.
"He would be the classic case for people looking for a guy who is truly a student-athlete," Husker linebackers coach Craig Bohl said. "He's excelled in the classroom, and he's excelled on the football field. He's been able to balance that whole juggling act, and I don't think he's short-changed either side."
Shaw's professors are equally amazed.
"He just has a unique capacity to absorb material," said Dr. Phil Miller, associate professor of animal science. "He's been recognized as the top student in the major.
"He's not a flashy guy. He just wants to learn."
Dr. Jim Kendrick, professor of agricultural economics, has had Shaw in two classes, "and he easily topped the class in both. I don't know where he finds the time."
So where does he find the time?
"I know that I should put in so many hours of studying during the week," Shaw said, "and I need to put in so much time watching (game) films and so much time in the weight room.
"There's only so much time in the day, so managing it is one of the biggest keys to doing well."
Keith Zimmer, NU's associate director of academic programs and student services, rates Shaw as one of his department's all-time superstars. Zimmer, who has been in academic support at NU for 12 years, said former Husker offensive lineman Rob Zatechka, a standout in biological sciences, is the only other football player with a resume equal to Shaw's.
"When you think about what we're asking students to do -- with athletics, academics and community work -- he's really done them all well," Zimmer said. "He's been a dream."
In addition to his athletic and academic excellence, Shaw reads to kids at Lincoln grade schools, visits area hospitals and talks to high school students in the state about the importance of an education.
Shaw's education is going to take him as far as he wants to go. He isn't sure about what he wants to do when the semester ends. He might work on an MBA. He might see what kind of job offers come his way.
"He could pretty much do anything he wants," Dr. Miller said.
Someday, Shaw wants to take over the family farm in Deweese, which is about 30 miles southeast of Hastings.
"Eventually I want to end up back on the farm," Shaw said. "It's in my blood."
I'd like to know kind of blood that is.
Bet it's type A.