When a school gets a commitment from the top player in their state, it’s a big win. When that player is a top-10 recruit nationally, they are considered a game-changer.
That’s what Mack Brown and North Carolina have in defensive lineman Travis Shaw. Shaw committed to the Tar Heels in August over Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Florida, Ohio State, and many others. He’s rated as the fourth-best recruit in the entire country and second-best defensive lineman behind Walter Nolan on the 247sports composite. He’s the second top-10 recruit to commit to North Carolina in 2022, joining offensive tackle Zach Rice.
Being from North Carolina, Shaw could be the next face of Tar Heel football after quarterback Sam Howell leaves. Listed at 6’5”, 310 pounds on 247sports, he has the size of a potential elite college defensive lineman. Being on the basketball team shows how athletic Shaw is.
If a recruit is ranked in the top ten, it means they dominate every time they step on the field. Shaw is no exception to that rule, as he can be impossible to stop at times. The first play on his sophomore highlights shows that. He overpowered the offensive tackle and knocked the quarterback down without giving him much time to throw.
In the next play, he lined up as a standing-up defensive end and helped chase the quarterback down for a short gain. He wasn’t touched on the play by anyone. On the play after, he broke through a double team and caused the quarterback to drop the football.
Shaw has lined up at both defensive end and defensive tackle in high school. Whether he was over the tackle or center, it didn’t matter as Shaw was tough to block. He has the strength to power through linemen and the quickness to get around them. He’s always around the ball, as well, either chasing down runners or putting pressure on the quarterback.
In the run game, Shaw got into the backfield so quickly that the running back had nowhere to go once he got the ball. Option plays wouldn’t work either, as Shaw kept his eyes on where the ball was instead of guessing. There was just as much success on passing plays as Shaw could get pressure both inside and outside. When he didn’t get a hand on the quarterback, he made the smart decision to put his hands up to knock the ball down.
Like all linemen, Shaw needs to keep working on his strength when he goes against college players. He’ll also need to not just rely on his strength alone as that could get him into trouble in college.
Shaw’s five-star status is well-earned as he has All-American potential as a college defensive lineman. No matter where he lines up, he’ll be a threat create havoc every single play.