ATLANTA — Jaybo Shaw has been well-trained in making option decisions.
He says his best call was the decision to transfer from Georgia Tech to Georgia Southern.
With Shaw leading the option offense, Georgia Southern (6-0) is No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision for the first time in a decade.
He began his career as a backup at Georgia Tech, helping coach Paul Johnson install his spread option attack. There were some notable high points as a fill-in starter behind Joshua Nesbitt, including wins over Duke and Mississippi State.
After Shaw’s sophomore season, one of Johnson’s assistants, Jeff Monken, was hired to head the Georgia Southern program. Shaw decided to follow Monken to Statesboro.
Shaw says he has no regrets.
“When I made the decision to follow coach Monken, I was just praying for the best,” Shaw said. “It has worked out and it has been the best decision I’ve made. I love it down here.”
It’s shaping up as a year to remember for the Shaw football family.
Lee Shaw, the patriarch, is the coach of undefeated Flowery Branch High School, one of the top Class AAAA teams in Georgia.
Connor Shaw, the youngest son, has emerged this season as the starting quarterback for Steve Spurrier at No. 14 South Carolina.
Jaybo has the family’s only claim to No. 1 in the nation as Georgia Southern prepares to play Presbyterian on Saturday. Jaybo said the three keep in touch with daily phone calls.
“I talk with my brother every day,” Shaw said. “We talk every afternoon. The same with my dad. I call him every night after practice. Most of the time it’s not even about football.
“We all three have a very special relationship with each other. I’m excited for my dad and the season he has going and I couldn’t be more excited for my brother and the success he’s had early on.”
Jaybo Shaw learned the option offense from his dad at Flowery Branch. That experience helped him play in seven games, including one start, as a freshman at Georgia Tech in 2008. He threw for 230 yards in a win over Duke, setting a school record for a quarterback in his first start.
After being limited by a broken collarbone in 2009, Shaw transferred to Georgia Southern, where Monken made the popular decision to bring the option attack back to the Eagles. It was the offense that led Georgia Southern to six national championships, the most recent in 1999 and 2000 when Johnson was the head coach and Monken was an assistant.
The Eagles also won titles in 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1990 — the last two behind quarterback Raymond Gross, a Bradwell Institute product.Now, Shaw is helping to bring back the Eagles’ glory days.
“He made a very mature decision,” Lee Shaw said Thursday of Jaybo’s decision to transfer. “I didn’t have to go over a lot of the pros and cons with him.
“We talked about the opportunities he’d have going down there and helping start a program in that offense. He was looking at the long picture, getting the business degree and getting into education, so academically it was a better fit.”
Lee Shaw said Jaybo has aspirations to coach. Monken said the quarterback already leads like a coach.
“He has gotten so much better and is a great student of the game,” Monken said Thursday. “He knows the offense and works very hard to gain a greater understanding every day of all the little things, all the little nuances and positions other than quarterback.
“He could line up at any skill position and be able to play that position. He can tell, most of the time, all the linemen what their techniques are and what their calls should be. He is just a really remarkable kid and I am sure glad that we got him.”
Shaw started in 2010 as Georgia Southern returned to the FCS playoffs. Through six games this season, he has completed 31 of 56 passes for 631 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions and has 217 yards rushing with a team-leading six touchdowns.
The Eagles, who won their last national championship in 2000, are No. 1 in both major FCS polls for the first time since 2001.
“It’s just great,” Shaw said. “We’re trying not to pay attention to it too much. We know it can disappear on us on a Saturday afternoon just like that.”
Johnson said he expected Monken and Shaw to win big with the option offense.
“Historically we had a lot of success there doing that stuff,” Johnson said this week. “It’s good to see them back. Hopefully they can get back on the national level and finish it off.”
Connor Shaw, who took over as South Carolina’s starter after Stephen Garcia was dismissed, said there’s no sibling competition.
“It’s definitely not a rivalry,” said Connor Shaw. “We talk three or four times a day. We’ve been best friends since we were little and he’s helped me so much while I’ve been here. We talk after every game, before every game. If I need advice, I can call him and if he has any advice, he can call me. It works out good.”
Jaybo Shaw said he follows his father’s games on Friday nights and looks for his brother’s highlights and results on Saturdays. Most of the time, the talks are about wins.
“I think we’re 19-1 at the Shaw house,” said Lee Shaw, “so that’s a pretty good run.”
AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.