May 20, 2015 tomshaw_qqq7aq

At Disney World, Training guru Tom Shaw gets players ready for the NFL

D’Brickashaw Ferguson is one confident 300-pound lineman heading to this week’s NFL combine – thanks to training guru Tom Shaw. “I’m happy with my progress. I’m faster, stronger and more explosive,” the 6-foot-5 offensive tackle says. “I’m ready to show what I’ve got. The camp has been very productive for me.” NFL personnel are eager for a close-up look at Ferguson, an All-American from Virginia expected to be among the first six players chosen in the April draft. What they’ll see at the NFL’s testing ground in Indianapolis are Ferguson and about 40 other finely tuned players fresh from Shaw’s intensive training program – Tom Shaw Performance Enhancement. This year, Shaw is based at Walt Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in a deal reached late last year after Hurricane Katrina damaged his spartan facility in Kenner, La., near the airport in New Orleans. “We were ready to go again 17 days, but the facility was needed to house people in our apartments, and the fields turned into a tent city,” Shaw says. “We were lucky to find a new home.” Shaw, a 45-year-old former strength and conditioning assistant for the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints, is one of the most respected training coaches around. He was among the first to open his doors to players hoping to improve their NFL stock. He was a track coach at Florida State, too, and when he began his camp, his top pupil was Deion Sanders, an All-American with the Seminoles who played on Super Bowl winners in Dallas and San Francisco. Today, there are about 20 different camps around the country offering a variety of programs and run by former coaches, trainers and even sports agents. “Shaw was a forerunner of these workout programs,” NFL draft adviser Gil Brandt says. “He’s highly recommended by a lot of people. His program gets an athlete to do the best he can possibly do and to be prepared for the combine.” His training philosophy is simple: SPARQ, as in speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness. “Speed is emphasized,” Shaw’s business manager Dave Lowman says. “He’s looking to increase speed, plus lower times in the 40 and the shuttle – two big things the combine examines. We also work on stamina and study. Yes, there’s class work, too. The players leave with a sense of what to expect, and are usually in the best shape of their lives.” Over the past six years, 54 players who ended up as first-round picks went through Shaw’s program, including Michael Vick and Peyton Manning. But his greatest satisfaction is taking a projected mid-rounder and turning him into a high-round choice. Or a late-rounder into a mid-rounder. Cornerback Ike Taylor, who had a key interception in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl victory over Seattle, is among Shaw’s most prized pupils. Shaw has known him for about 10 years – since Taylor spent summers at Shaw’s camp while growing up in New Orleans. “His uncle would send him around in the summers, and he’d be around Deion and Terrell Buckley,” Shaw says. “He’s fast, and explosive. He went from walk-on at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he played just two years, moved from running back to cornerback, and went from a later-rounder to a fourth-round pick by the Steelers. Now, after three years, he’s become one of the best at his position.” While Shaw’s camp boasts a who’s who of NFL stars – Tom Brady, Jevon Kearse and John Abraham also went through the program – it was nearly wiped out by Katrina. Shaw and his partners looked to relocate, and made a call to Disney. Enter Reggie Williams, vice president of Disney sports and recreation who played 14 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. “Tom Shaw has such a great reputation and we really wanted to work with him to ensure that he could keep doing everything he needed to do, and in a world-class operation,” Williams says. “We host a lot of events, but we still keep our open door.” Disney’s sports complex is the training site for baseball’s Atlanta Braves and football’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It also has facilities for track and field, cross country, tennis, softball, youth league baseball and the 5,000-seat Milk House for basketball, volleyball, wrestling, martial arts and inline hockey. “We went from a $1.5 million facility to over a $100 million facility – it’s turned out to be a Godsend,” Shaw says. “We had some fields with a track around it, and some corporate apartments. Here there are nine football fields, an Olympic track, a huge weight room and a resort with three swimming pools.” Just two days after the Steelers won the Super Bowl, Taylor showed up at the camp. “Got to get back in the program,” he says. “The guys are bigger and stronger every year and you’ve got to keep up. Plus, this is a great place.”

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