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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Chris Allen Shaw – Football 1995-99

Shaw gets his kicks helping prospects

 

 

By Bruce Brown

 

Special to Athletic Network

 

 

Chris Shaw wore No. 27 while punting for UL’s Ragin’ Cajuns some 20 years ago, and there were times in a disastrous 1997 campaign when it seemed like he had 27 kicks in a game.

 

Generally, you’d like your place kicker to take the more active role in the day’s outcome, but that wasn’t always the case.

 

In fact, Shaw’s 3,213 yards on 79 attempts that year (with a 40.7 average) remains the school record prompted by offensive futility. That was also the year the 2-9 Cajuns surrendered 50 points per game.

 

Those days seem long ago now, since Mark Hudspeth’s program has rolled to four straight bowl victories, and Shaw couldn’t be happier for his alma mater.

 

There are a lot of special things going on,” said Shaw, who punted 232 times for 9,532 yards and a 41.1-yard average from 1996-99 while playing three years under Nelson Stokley and one under Jerry Baldwin.

 

There was a glitch in the matrix with Jerry Baldwin, and when Rickey Bustle came in, he saw what was needed. He knew it would take money to succeed. Coach Hud has set the tone for where we are now.”

 

Shaw punted in the legendary 29-22 win over No. 25 Texas A&M at Cajun Field in 1996, but UL went from 5-6 to 1-10 to 2-9 and 2-9 in his four years.

 

Our leadership group – players like Brandon Stokley, Brian Soignier and Damon Mason – kept it going,” he said. “There was no quit in our attitude. We worked hard. But the power of money (or lack of it) eventually takes over.

 

The crowd for the A&M game (a then-record 38,783) is second nature now. The tides have definitely changed.”

 

One plus for the current Cajun regime has been special teams play, and a recent influx of punters with pedigrees in Australian Rules Football.

 

First it was Daniel Cadona (2013-14), who surpassed some of Shaw’s school records with averages of 54.8 (game), 42.9 (season, ’14) and 42.3 (career). Next up is Steven Coutts, who in the 2015 opener at Kentucky averaged 43.4 and had one kick downed on the Wildcats’ 1-yard line.

 

That started with Darren Bennett, who played 12 years in the NFL – 11 in San Diego,” Shaw said of the punters from Down Under. “They are definitely athletic, and have been that type all their life. It’s definitely a weapon.

 

The game itself has changed, too. Coaches don’t care as much about a spiral as they do forcing a fair catch. Years ago, there were only a handful of turf fields. Now you can make the ball run by dropping the nose down, instead of it sticking in the mud where it lands. Guys are averaging 47-48 yards per kick.

 

Now they’re drafting guys for special teams. I wish I had been 25 just going into my college years.”

 

Shaw is familiar with landing in football from another sport. He arrived at Comeaux High in Lafayette as a sophomore soccer player, then was “drafted” to kick for the football squad, where he became teammates with Brandon Stokley.

 

After his Cajun career, he had tryouts with several NFL teams before injury shelved that dream. But Shaw, who lives in McKinney, Texas, near Dallas with wife Bethany and son Isac, has forged a new career as National Punting and Kicking Coach.

 

We went full-time with it in 2007, and we’ve had good success,” Shaw said. “I wanted to give back and give these kickers something they’ve never had. A lot of coaches don’t pay attention to kickers, which was true for me except with Coach Stokley.

 

We go to universities like Oklahoma State, Texas and Tulsa and hold one-day camps. We evaluate them in the morning and train them in the afternoon. We have developed a system that has produced 26 All-Americans, 4 high school All-Americans, in 7 years.”

 

Oklahoma State’s Matt Fodge, the 2008 Ray Guy Award winner (the nation’s best punter), was a Shaw pupil. So were Lou Groza Award (place kicker) winners Dan Bailey of OSU (2010) and Texas A&M’s Randy Bullock (2011).

 

Shaw’s program can claim some 100 college scholarships in special teams, as well as dozens of NFL tryouts.

 

I saw a need for the kids, and it gives me the ability to stay in the game,” Shaw said. “When I started, only three or four people were doing it. Now, more people see the need.

 

I was never a 9-to-5 type of guy, and this is gratifying work. The first (college) weekend, we had 60 kids on TV. I got a lot of text messages.”

 

When Shaw tutors young prospects, he urges them to stay connected to the squad instead of operating on an island – the typical image of kickers in the game.

 

I tell them, no matter what, be part of the team,” he said. “Work out, run wind sprints, volunteer for scout team, instead of just doing your thing. A lot of coaches have a mentality about the importance of special teams. Coach Stokley was big-time on special teams, but not all of them are.

 

When I run these camps, I explain the perspective. You have to have that athletic mindset, that work ethic. When I was at UL, you looked at players like Jake (Delhomme) and Brandon and saw how hard they worked and thought about what you needed to do for that level of play.”

 

Shaw, who has working relationships with some 75 college coaching staffs, speaks at the AFCA Coaches Clinic and Texas High School Coaches Convention. He is still very much attached to football, and to the Cajuns, whom he hopes to see in person this fall.

 

He combined the two interests recently, helping Cajun kicker Hunter Stover hone his craft.

 

Now, 20 years after his college career, Shaw has finally seen some of his marks overtaken in the UL record book. But he’s hoping no one comes close to his all-too-busy season of 1997.

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Here are some of KICKNATION accomplishments since its inception:
2008 RAY GUY AWARD WINNER
2010, 2011 LOU GROZA WINNERS
12 LOU GROZA Semifinalist Since 2007
9 RAY GAY Semifinalist Since 2007
91 COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS
13 ACADEMIC ALL AMERICANS
23 COLLEGE ALL AMERICANS
4 HS ALL AMERICANS
60 PLAYERS PART OF DIVISION 1 BOWLS
5 PLAYERS PART OF DIVISION 1 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
7 PLAYERS INVITED TO NFL COMBINE
4 CURRENT PLAYERS IN NFL
AFCA MAGAZINE SPECIAL TEAMS ARTICLES 2013,2014
2013 MOMENT SPORTS SPONSORSHIP
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Chris Shaw
President / Special Teams Consultant
National Kicking, Punting & Snapping Coach
Contact

Click here for KickNation website.

Click here for Chris’ Athletic Network Profile.  

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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.