July 23, 2021

Recruiting: Brother Rice's Shaw, Bolingbrook's McLaurin, New Trier's Davidkov pick their schools

Brother Rice running back Willie Shaw III thoroughly enjoyed his talks with the Toledo football coaching staff.

Even with the oddities created by the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders that drastically changed recruiting so that coaches and recruits may have not met face-to-face before the player commits, Shaw connected with Rockets coach Jason Candle and his staff.

“When we talked (by phone, FaceTime or Zoom teleconference) it was pretty good,” Shaw said. “It was a decent amount of time. They always had something new to tell me about their school or the football program. Just any thoughts they had for the future. It was always an interesting conversation.”

Toledo’s coaches did their job well enough to get Shaw away from his other two top schools, the Big Ten Conference’s Illinois and Nebraska. Shaw, a 6-foot, 195-pound junior, gave the Rockets his commitment on Sunday.

Shaw rushed 157 times for 1,289 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as the Crusaders were a Class 8A semifinalist. Brother Rice fell to Warren, 28-0, in their semifinal game and finished 8-5.

Shaw had 10 NCAA Division I scholarship offers. He had visited Illinois on multiple occasions, but had not been to Toledo or Nebraska, his other two top choices.

Shaw, who also ran track at Brother Rice, wants to give the Rockets a versatile back who can run and catch the ball out of the backfield. He admires the versatile games of NFL running backs like Le’Veon Bell and Alvin Kamara.

“I am someone who has good vision, inside and outside the line of scrimmage,” Shaw said. “I’m pretty much a hard-working kid who’s trying to do his best to get to the next step, which is hopefully the draft.”

Recruiting heated up for Shaw last summer, but he now is ready for quieter nights when he can study, relax and spend time with his family.

“It’s amazing to get it over with,” Shaw said regarding his commitment. “At first, when I had offers coming in it was pretty cool being able to talk to different reporters. But once the season hit, the interviews and everything, it was coming almost every night and it was a little stressful. It was good (talking to Toledo). It was how genuine I felt that connection with the coaches was.”

McLaurin to Michigan: Bolingbrook linebacker Tyler McLaurin was fortunate enough to get in his visit to Ann Arbor before the coronavirus shut down college campuses. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff, along with the university, made lasting impressions.

McLaurin (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) committed to Michigan last week.

“I was one of the last few people up there,” McLaurin said. “I really got a chance to connect with the coaches, (offensive coordinator) Don Brown, (tight ends coach) Sherrone Moore and coach Harbaugh,” McLaurin said. “I really got a chance to meet them and understand their philosophy for a team, and really find out who they are as people.”

That, along with Michigan’s academics, sold McLaurin, who plans on majoring in computer science.

“It was really about after football,” he said. “Me and my family thought Michigan gave a great chance for being successful after college, after football ends.”

McLaurin feels like he can become an every-down player for the Wolverines.

“The versatility and and physicality I play with is a big factor,” said McLaurin, who plays inside and outside linebacker. “Being able to be in multiple spots in the same series or possession plays a huge role in being part of the team defense.”

McLaurin said he has talked occasionally with Nazareth quarterback JJ McCarthy, a junior who committed to Michigan last year.

Davidkov to Iowa: New Trier junior offensive tackle David Davidkov was going a little tired of the constant phone calls from college coaches. A player with 19 D-I offers tends to get a lot of attention.

Davidkov eventually figured it was time to announce his choice, since he had one school in mind all along and was sure it was the right place. Davidkov (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) put a halt to the calls a couple weeks ago when he committed to Iowa.

“The reason I chose to do it sooner rather than later is because I’d known Iowa was my top choice for a long time and I felt as if I was wasting coaches’ time from other schools, and my own time,” Davidkov said. “I just felt like if I commit now, I’d help recruiting other guys to join. With the official visits, I wasn’t going to wait for that. That’s really not going to change my mind.”

Davidkov said his other top schools were also from the Big Ten: Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. He felt like those schools, along with Iowa, all were adept at producing top offensive linemen.

Davidkov felt a connection with Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, offensive line coach Tim Polasek and strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

“Iowa develops more athletic linemen than other schools,” Davidkov said. “They can move pretty well and that fits my playing style best. That’s the type of lineman I want to be.”

Davidkov visited Iowa twice before, as a sophomore on Iowa’s Junior Day and for last year’s Iowa vs. Minnesota game.

“I actually planned a visit that would have been two weeks after everything got shut down (for the coronavirus),” Davidkov said. “I’m still going to go to my official visit at Iowa (this fall). I’m really excited for that.”