COLUMBIA - Connor Shaw walked into the Cleveland Browns' locker room for the first time last month, and reality hit him.
What: MVP Football Camp
When: Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: Stoney Field, Charleston
Who: Ages 6-17
Registration: Call (864) 350-1222 or go to everettsm.com
Here he was, standing inside an NFL locker room. His name was written atop one locker. His jersey hung neatly. Shaw grabbed his new helmet, the one with a brown stripe splitting an orange background.
That's when Shaw paused.
"First thing, I was like, 'Man, it's going to take some time to get used to wearing orange,'" Shaw said. "Other than that, it was a pretty surreal feeling. I walked into the locker room and saw 'Connor Shaw' above the locker, and it had some Browns gear in there, and just toured the building and stuff. It's something you dream about as a kid."
Some feelings never die. The Browns may have a different shade of orange than Clemson. For the former South Carolina quarterback, orange is still orange.
Shaw, a Georgia native, is spending some time back in his adopted South Carolina home before returning to Cleveland for training camp. He worked out inside Williams-Brice Stadium a couple times this week. On Saturday, he'll host the Connor Shaw MVP Football Camp at Stoney Field in Charleston.
It's been "a grind" in Cleveland, Shaw said. He's enjoyed his time back home, tossing spirals inside his old college stadium.
"When those lights come back on," Shaw said, "there's nothing like it."
Through the draft process, Shaw said he had a feeling Cleveland would be his destination. Still, he took a winding path to his dreams.
Shaw expected the Browns to draft him in the seventh round. Instead, they traded the pick to the Baltimore Ravens for a sixth-round selection in next year's draft, and Shaw went undrafted. It was a surprising turn of events. Shaw, projected as a late-round pick, called it "heartbreaking" to be passed over.
It didn't take long for Shaw's phone to ring after the draft.
"As the draft shook out, I kind of figured that either way I was going to end up with Cleveland," Shaw said. "I knew absolutely that, if I wasn't going to get drafted, I would pick Cleveland first if I had the option. It ended up that way, and I feel very fortunate that it happened like that. Honestly, I don't think there could have been a better fit than with Cleveland."
Shaw may be wearing his former rival's color. He may be in a northern city, inside an NFL locker room, buried on the depth chart behind first-round pick and former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. But Shaw said he's comfortable with his new surroundings.
It's been a smooth transition for Shaw in Cleveland. He called it "a blue-collar town," fit for a blue-collar quarterback whose game is built on toughness above all else. Fellow Browns quarterback Tyler Thigpen shares Shaw's agent. Shaw said Thigpen has taken him under his wing, helping with his adjustment to pro football.
Familiar surroundings - a new home away from home - have also helped.
"I can just tell that it's a blue-collar type of town," Shaw said of Cleveland. "Everybody works hard, and they're really loyal. Those guys are starving for a winning program, not much different than when I came to South Carolina. There's a bunch of fans starving for success. We're there to give that to them."