Bryson Shaw wasn’t first team.
Second-team, not so much.
Shaw, new to the Bullis School after beginning his prep career in a Baltimore-area program, did not immediately crack the two-deep on the football field for the Bulldogs.
Didn’t take Shaw long to correct that understandable approach.
“He came in as a sophomore from a school up in Baltimore, and in his first scrimmage running with the third team, we run a zone read, and he basically walked into the end zone from about 80 yards out,” said Bullis School coach Pat Cilento, no stranger to the Ohio State program after his tutelage of recent first-round NFL Draft pick Dwayne Haskins. “Bryson did it three straight plays in a row. When he had the ball in his hands, he was electric. Literally on those plays from about the 30 yard-line in, he basically jogged in.
“I didn’t know too much about him. He was a lacrosse player originally committed to Maryland in eighth grade. He was coming here to play lacrosse, and after seeing him in a scrimmage live, I said: ‘ We’ve got to find a way to get him on the field.’ He could definitely run, he was the fastest kid I’ve ever seen with the ball in his hand. And he definitely played with a chip on his shoulder.”
That chip carried Shaw through a remarkable prep career and into a future with Ohio State after he inked to play safety as part of Ryan Day’s 2019 signing haul. But for all the signing day journeys, Shaw’s is about as unique as anyone.
National lacrosse recruit. Undersized football player. Eventual Bullis School team MVP and conference defensive player of the year on the gridiron.
“His first year for us, he played linebacker,” Cilento said. “He was 160 pounds, and he made plays for us. His junior year, we moved him back there and he took off.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 175-pound Shaw proceeded to do a little bit of everything for Bullis. He returned kickoffs, punts, played special teams and, for good measure, set a remarkable example in the hallways of the prestigious school.
“I think lacrosse really helped him — he was so very good on punt return, kickoff return,” Cilento told Lettermen Row. “If he has you faced up like in lacrosse, he’s just going to make you miss.
“And you know, he is a great kid, always looking out for everybody else.”
Cilento strives to cultivate a special family-type atmosphere within his program for all of his players; he knows first-hand how much Shaw embodies that approach.
“Him and my 4-year-old son, Vincent, before every game, he would go give high-fives, and he was the same way in the hallway with our kids,” Cilento said. “It was great. Vincent would go with Bryson or Bryson would want Vincent to go with him on recruiting trips. Bryson is just a great kid. I think he’s graduating and reports the next day.”
Cilento knows Shaw’s model carries into the Bullis School long after Shaw seeks to make his mark in the Horseshoe.
“It’s great, his example,” Cilento said. “Great for our student-body, and teachers love it and Bryson was going to always do the right thing and did the right thing all three years he was here. He was a star and a leader and a great kid. It makes the school a more positive place.”
And how would Cilento break down Shaw on the field?
“Once he’s on the defensive side of the ball, you go away from him,” Cilento said. “Just go away, because his closing speed is unbelievable, and with that chip on his shoulder, he wants to rip your head off.
“In the return game, you couldn’t kick to us. I think his junior year he returned six kicks for touchdowns and he had two called back as well. Offensively, most teams double-teamed him everywhere he went.”
Not bad for the former third-teamer.