Posted: 6:38 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014

Alabama’s Nick Saban comments on scholarship for injured Tucker football star 

By Michael Carvell

DT Elisha Shaw of Tucker High School (AJC photo)

DT Elisha Shaw of Tucker High School (AJC photo)

One of the feel-good stories from this past year’s signing day was finalized on Monday.

Alabama officially got clearance from the NCAA to award a non-football scholarship to Elisha Shaw, the former Tucker High School standout who suffered a career-ending neck injury at the beginning of his senior season.

Before the injury, Shaw was rated as one of the state’s top 10 overall college football prospects for 2014. He had around 20 scholarship offers, and listed Alabama, UGA and Ole Miss as his leaders.

Shaw won’t count as a regular football scholarship, or against Alabama’s 85-man roster limit.

“We’ve always done this kind of stuff for our players,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told the AJC on Monday. “We’ve had players that had Hodgkin’s disease and couldn’t play. We had a guy last year who … couldn’t pass his physical and is still going to school here. So whenever it’s allowed by NCAA rules, we always try to do the best we can for the player.

“Elisha Shaw was committed to us for a long time. We thought he was a good player. Certainly, it wasn’t his fault that he got hurt. We’re all about trying to create opportunities for guys, and give them opportunities. Elisha was a guy, since he was committed to us, we wanted to see if there was anything we could do to give him the opportunity to get education here even though he was medically disqualified to play.

“We were really just trying to take care of our own.”

Nick Saban (AP)

Nick Saban (AP)

Before last February’s signing day, Shaw never publicly committed to Alabama nor was he ever listed as a Crimson Tide commit on any recruiting websites. However, Saban said Monday that Shaw had privately given him a pre-injury pledge to sign with Alabama — and that was good enough to honor the scholarship offer.

“He had committed to me,” Saban said. “But maybe that wouldn’t have stuck? I don’t know. We had a good relationship with him. We liked him as a player. We liked him as a person. We were committed to him after he told me he wanted to come to Alabama. As soon as all of this occurred, we told him that we were going to do everything we could to see if we could still give him the opportunity to get him an education here at the University of Alabama.”

Last August, Shaw injured his neck while making a tackle in practice and never played again. Tucker coach Bryan Lamar pitched the idea of a non-football scholarship for Shaw to Alabama’s assistants because that’s where Shaw really wanted to go to school. The injury was another tough break for Shaw, who had missed his sophomore year of football due to academics. He also underwent knee surgery as a junior.

Alabama’s special deal was first revealed by Shaw and his coaches as a surprise on signing day and quickly became a national story. However, it took nearly six months to get through all of the paperwork and red tape to gain official clearance on Monday.

Saban, who couldn’t talk about Shaw until Monday due to NCAA rules, thanked college football’s governing body for allowing it to happen.

“Our compliance people handled it with NCAA, and I’m just really pleased and happy that the NCAA is making more and more decisions in favor of the student-athlete — I think that’s really a good thing,” Saban said. “I think these guys (players) really work hard. The value of getting an education is certainly important, but the value of what they do for the institutions is pretty special, too. I’m glad more and more things are being done on behalf of the student-athlete and the player.

“I think the coaches in our league have all been advocates of doing as much as we can for the players. Of course, you always have to worry about making sure they’re amateurs. We can’t lose the spirit of college football, but I think in this case, Elisha Shaw was a good thing that the NCAA did. This is going to change this young man’s life in a positive way. I’m sure he will be an asset to our organization here, even though he can’t play football.”

2015 Tucker DL Jonathan Ledbetter (right) committed to Alabama on the same weekend as Elisha Shaw's official visit

2015 Tucker DL Jonathan Ledbetter (right) committed to Alabama on the same weekend as Elisha Shaw’s official visit

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Shaw will officially start classes next month, along with members of Alabama’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Shaw has the option of being part of the football program in a role that has yet to be determined, providing he maintains good grades.

“The first and foremost thing we want Elisha to do here is to be a good student,” Saban said. “We try to help our players continue to develop as people and to make good choices and decision to be successful in the future. Of course, a big part of that is making sure they get an education. That’s the No. 1 thing.

“If Elisha wants to be involved in the football program in some way, whether it’s be a student assistant of some sort, we would certainly welcome him to do that. That might lead to him developing a career as a coach or a trainer, or something like that. If that what he’s wants to do, we’d love for him to do it.”

The state of Georgia is traditionally one of Alabama’s primary recruiting areas, although only two out of 26 signees from this past year were from Georgia. For 2015, Alabama has 19 commitments, including four from Georgia. One of those is Tucker defensive tackle Jonathan Ledbetter, who is close friends with Shaw. Ledbetter committed while visiting Alabama with Shaw last January.

Tucker is one of the state’s top annual producers of college football talent, and had five seniors sign this past year with D1 schools, including the UGA-bound duo of Dominick Sanders and Detric Dukes. 

TO GET THE BIG PICTURE

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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123 comments
All knowing
All knowing

Since when is this news?  Woody Hayes did this for Earle Bruce when he was injured in his sophomore year at Ohio State in the late 50's.  Ohio State has alays honored injured players' scholarships.

All knowing
All knowing

Since when is this news?  Woody Hayes granted this to Earle Bruce back in the late 50's or early 60's.  Ohio State has always granted scholarships to injured athletes.  I don't see this as any remarkable revelation.

ScoreCheck
ScoreCheck

PR move plain and simple.   Doesn't count against 85 limit.

“We were really just trying to take care of our own.” --> http://oversigning.com

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

I wonder if they would have honored this scholly if it counted against their 85. I highly doubt it. They run off more players than anyone. 80 grand is chump change to a major CFB program. Big PR move

ccatlanta
ccatlanta

To what extent is Elisha Shaw disabled by his serious neck injury? Is he paralyzed? Or is he not able to play football because doctors fear another big hit would leave him paralyzed? Can he walk? This story doesn't say what his physical condition is now. That might have some relevance on whether he participates in any capacity with the football program.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

UGA fans throwing rocks at Nick Saban...LOL


Hell you hired Jeremy Pruitt because he learned from Nick Saban.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Boy that tough UGA discipline just doesn't stop!!

Johnathon Taylor obviously learned his lesson after arrest #1. :( :( :(

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Thank God for the Nic-Tator.

Unfortunate the state school for Mr. Shaw did a "180" once the injury occurred.

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

who cares all capone started the first soup kitchen to how about a story on all the players who loose there scholarships because there not good enough. oh I forgot its the ajcs job to protect the $EC.

slydawg
slydawg

Jonathan Taylor. .... Transfer coming

Terry1961
Terry1961

And you Bama Fans call UGA Fans Delusional, calling people butt hurt, just because you can’t stand someone calling Saban out, it wasn’t even Sabans Ideal, but you Bama Fans can’t comprehend that, (Tucker coach Bryan Lamar pitched the ideal of a non-football scholarship for Shaw to Alabama’s assistants), but you people act like it was some great gesture from Saban, what do you think would have been said about Saban, if he had not helped this kid out? How do you think the Tucker coach would have felt about Saban? Just be honest with yourself, it was a PR move that help out a kid, more power to him, hope he uses the opportunity to excel in life.

AWA1
AWA1

The student gets a non-football scholarship to Alabama.  But doesn't this beg two questions: would he have gotten an academic scholarship, had he not been a football prospect?  And second, once he couldn't play football,what business is it for NCAA?  


Frankly, I believe that if a student has signed a commitment (and especially once they've set foot on campus as a freshman), ALL athletic scholarships should be honored, for up to four years.  NCAA claims it protects the "student athlete" ... where the key qualifier is student.   If the sstudent is injured, they move from the list of scholarship athletes to regular sschoarlship program for non athletes.  Once the university has to start absorbing these injured athletes in their regular scholarship program, you'll see the schools paying attention to the athlete's health and wellness and forcing coaches to make better decisions about playing injured athletes.   Require the schools to continue providing all the support programs to the injured athlete - such as tutoring - to help ensure that the student graduates.  The schools all claim that they have the kid's best interest at heart, so prove it.


RealReality
RealReality

"Nick Saban could have stepped to the microphone last week at SEC media days and delivered a stern message to his team at Alabama. After an offseason colored by two DUI arrests, one player getting caught with marijuana and another getting arrested for disobeying a police officer, it seemed like a prime opportunity to fire a shot across the bow. Or, at the very least, to make a statement about the direction the program is headed.


But Saban wasn’t interested in doing that. As he has done with each off-field incident since last season ended, he insisted that issues will be handled internally."


Meaning: he will buy them an ice cream cone and tell them not to do it again or they won't get sprinkles next time. 

Crimson02
Crimson02

Some but hurt Gawgia fans in here.  Spike the ball Murray.....spike the damn ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BSNBC
BSNBC

Just trying to get more players from Tucker!

Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

A Georgia kid who's offer was pulled by Rev. Richt after he was injured gets a free education at the University of Alabama.  Sounds about right.


Roll Tide!

djbillyd
djbillyd

@All knowing you sound so bitter. It's news because, who else is doing it? Woody Hayes was one my favorite coaches, but he was no humanitarian. So, you could be just lying because you don't like Alabama and Nick Saban. But who cares? You seem lie a doodle bug of some sort, anyway!

djbillyd
djbillyd

@ScoreCheck another dumb a$$. Where do you toads come from, under some rock in the woods?

djbillyd
djbillyd

@Mr. Negative your stupid to. No, they would not have been able to do it, because e would not qualify as a student athlete dingbat!

Contractor1
Contractor1

So it was someone's brother's cousin's sister's baby daddy's uncle's son?

AlternativeDawg
AlternativeDawg

@BigCrimson75  Didn't one of your lineman get a DUI last week? Probably not as the Iraqi like media only reports the good news.

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@BigCrimson75 That's totally false, according to his high school. None of his leaders backed off . And Nick Saban said in the above article that Elisha Shaw had committed anyways to Alabama before the injury occurred. Why would Saban lie about that? 

Contractor1
Contractor1

Win first, talk second. It seems you and the other Dwags fans have it backwards.

GATHDawg
GATHDawg

@Blackoutanyone Unless he's going to the law school, it's not possible to get an education at the University of Alabama.

serously
serously

@Blackoutanyone  Richt & UGA "DID NOT" Pull his offer!! But Living In fantasy Land seems to make your day!! How About Trying The FACTS Some Time!!

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@Blackoutanyone Where did you get that information from? Because it's totally false, according to all the parties involved

Terry1961
Terry1961

Watch it Blackout, or MC will call you out, just like he did your bubby Contractor1.

Buzz-Off
Buzz-Off

Wow Blackout.......you really have this story screwed-up!!!

Dman
Dman

He will probably end up at Auburn penetetuary.

Blackoutanyone
Blackoutanyone

From an ESPN article: "The former 296-pound defensive tackle had a slew of scholarship offers as a junior at Tucker High in Atlanta. Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and a number of other top Division I programs were interested, but after he suffered a serious neck injury on the second day of summer practice last year, INTEREST DRIED UP."

MC you're telling me a Georgia High school football coach doesn't want to throw the state school under the buss? You serious Clark?

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@Contractor1 just because you have won doesn't make you untouchable...I'm sure you just started running you mouth when Nick Saban saved all your lives and state when he became the football coach at Bama...go dogs

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@Blackoutanyone A few things: (1) That was an assumption by the ESPN writer, and not an attributed quote. (2) Shaw's high school, who is the best source, said that none of his leaders backed off after the injury. And (3) Saban himself said that Shaw committed to Alabama before his injury, so if other schools backed off (and his coach said they didn't), then that's why. 

MichaelCarvell
MichaelCarvell moderator

@AlternativeDawg He had no reason to lie about that because it actually would've made Alabama look even better if they had offered a scholarship to an injured kid who hadn't been committed.