Originally created 02/22/06

Trainer sharpens players' skills



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 said. "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 facility in Kenner, La., near the airport in New Orleans.

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 winning teams 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 said.

His training philosophy is simple: SPARQ, as in speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness.

"Speed is emphasized," Shaw's business manager Dave Lowman said. "He's looking to increase speed, plus lower times in the 40 and the shuttle - two big things the combine examines."

During 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.

Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor is among Shaw's most prized pupils. Taylor went from walk-on at Louisiana-Lafayette to a fourth-round pick by the Steelers. Now he's one of the best at his position."

Just two days after the Steelers won the Super Bowl, Taylor showed up at the camp.

"Got to get back in the program," he said. "The guys are bigger and stronger every year. ... Plus, this is a great place."