The fluttering pass was too high, seemingly headed out of bounds, before Maurice Shaw extended his long arms and plucked it out of the air.
That’s the advantage of being a former power forward on a football field.
After reaching an impasse in one sport, Shaw now seeks to jump-start a career in another one.
At 6-foot-10, 265 pounds, the Lincoln High product was an early entry into the 2004 NBA draft, had tryouts with the Seattle SuperSonics, earned money playing professionally overseas in Portugal, and entertained crowds as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Now, Shaw is taking his agility and athleticism to the gridiron, joining over 300 participants in this Saturday’s Seattle NFL Regional Scouting Combine at the Seahawks’ headquarters in Renton.
But Shaw faces a distinct disadvantage having never played football in high school or college.
“I went out there one time, and literally my coaches came and took me off the field,” said Shaw about trying to play football in high school.
“Hopefully they can see me as a project that they can take a chance on to help. I have high hopes and dreams to get picked up by an NFL team. But my goal is to try and be a Seahawk. That’s my main goal. Keep it at home.”
Supplementing the league’s National Scouting Combine held every February in Indianapolis, regional combines provide a chance for players to ply their trade before veteran talent evaluators.
After meeting application requirements and paying a $225 fee, players who attend these events and perform well may be invited to attend the NFL Super Regional Combine, which will be held at Cowboys Stadium on April 7 and 8. There, players have an opportunity to work out in front of current NFL team scouts and player personnel directors.
While the longest of long shots, 14 players who competed in regional combines last year made NFL rosters in 2012, including Seattle tight end Sean McGrath.
Along with Shaw, several familiar faces will compete for scouts’ attention on Saturday, including University of Washington products cornerback Vonzell McDowell, linebacker Victor Aiyewa, offensive lineman Drew Schaefer and safeties Nate Fellner and Chancellor Young.
Washington State University products slated to attend include fullback Logwone Mitz, linebacker Isaiah Barsh, offensive lineman Drew Hansen and tight end Deon Ford.
Other South Sound prospects looking to shine are receiver Justin Veltung of Puyallup High and the University of Idaho, and Tumwater High and Eastern Washington University safety Zach Johnson.
Shaw, 28, said he’s been working diligently on route running and football-related weight-lifting drills for the last three months. He hopes to run a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, along with muscling at least 20 reps at 225 pounds in the bench press.
“Football’s always been my first sport growing up,” Shaw said. “But since I grew so much, everybody always told me to play basketball because there’s less of a chance of getting injured and all of that. But it wasn’t working out. So I just decided why not? I’m older now, and I’m just going to give it a shot.”
Shaw said he models his game after pass-catching tight ends with basketball frames like New England’s Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham.
And he also takes solace in the fact that Seattle just signed a former basketball player who didn’t play football in college in tight end Darren Fells.
“I think that was good, because I didn’t know if they would accept a player with no experience,” Shaw said. “But once he did that, it kind of got me really excited. I can’t base my success off of what happened with him. But hopefully they’ll see me when I go there.”Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams