While stretching one day last year, the Spring Grove football team switched to Frankensteins. The Rockets lifted one leg forward, touched their toes with arms extended and switched to the other leg, resembling the monster from Mary Shelley's novel.
Rockets assistant coach Greg Bowman then gave junior David Shaw a nickname that has stuck: Frankenshaw. While the common misperception about the book -- Frankenstein was actually the doctor, not the monster -- could lead to a negative image, Shaw was happy.
"It just made me laugh," he said. "I didn't have a problem with it."
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive lineman has monstrous size that has attracted interest from college coaches. Shaw visited Maryland on Oct. 20 and has drawn interest from Pittsburgh.
Rockets coach Russ Stoner believes Shaw will have NCAA Division I scholarship offers soon.
"He's going to have some choices where he wants to go," Stoner said. "He'll get to the point where we can't do anything for him. This time next year, we'll say we've done as much as we could do for David and he's ready for the next chapter of his life. I think the future is going to be bright for him."
The construction of David Shaw started recently.
He began playing football at 9 but had to compete against 10- to 13-year-olds because he was too big. Shaw was soon with 14- and 15-year-olds.
"Because of my size," he said, "I was able to stay up with them."
His family only worked with him once he reached high school. His father, James, played offensive tackle at Colgate and his two older brothers, John and Jim, were linemen at Penn State. They didn't push him earlier in fear of having him burn out.
"You're talking about three guys in that family that are big as houses, athletic and competitive," Stoner said. "I'm sure it's a lot of fun."
He's quick with a story.
One night last year, Jim was working with David and decided to test his younger brother. He lined up across from David as an offensive lineman would. Seventeen stitches along his left eyebrow later -- "I looked at it in the mirror, 'Ooo, wee, I'm going to be a freak show. I'm never going to heal right,'" Jim said -- he decided his younger brother was ready.
The aggressiveness is something David has worked to improve since his freshman year. Stoner remembers plays when Shaw would be knocked back eight or 12 yards last year but says that doesn't happen anymore, that Shaw is showing more determination.
One example is Shaw staying at the front of the team's lengthy Monday runs.
"In his mind, 'I'm not letting any pencil-necked skinny guys beat me around the track,'" Stoner said. "Ultimately as a defensive lineman, you have to play with your heart because down there nothing but bad, big ugly things happen to you."
Added Jim: "For a lot of the guys, people that play football, some are violent to begin with. That's why they like football. They have the outlet to be aggressive. He's always had the size and the natural athleticism, but he's working on his aggression consistently on defense. To be good, especially defensive line, you have to play with some sort of grudge."
David does endurance-based workouts with Jim in the offseason. He'll run hills, 70 or 80 yards tall, with a 20-pound weight vest, or he'll flip a tractor tire across a football field, do pushups in the end zone and flip it back or he'll sweat through hours of pullups, squats and whatever else Jim assigns.
Helping his little brother has given Jim an opportunity to stay in football. He injured a knee while at Penn State and hasn't been around the sport much since.
"For me, it's fun because my football career didn't pan out the way I liked it to," he said. "It's nice to have a little piece of myself in football. Most guys, this would never happen for them. It would be a distant memory for me."
Beyond team success, David's goal remains simple: earn a Division I scholarship. He wore a pair of blue Penn State mesh shorts during practice recently but said he wouldn't be picky.
Jim, who said he wouldn't push David to his alma mater, and John are two connections to Penn State. Maryland is an option because Stoner played football at Towson University with Maryland assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley, and Terrapins head coach and Susquehannock High School graduate Randy Edsall is heavily recruiting York County.
One challenge Shaw faces is opposing offenses routinely double-team him. That makes collecting plays for highlight DVDs that attract college coaches hard.
"I feel bad for him," Stoner said. "There are times we had to move him around to make people not know where he was to not get the double-team. It's good, but it's not good."
Added Rockets linebacker Andy Melhorn, "When he gets double-teamed like that, he leaves more room for the linebackers to get through and make tackles on the running back. He's getting pressure on the quarterback and makes it easier for us to get the read on the quarterback."
But Shaw takes pleasure in the obstacle as he aims to play college football.
"It makes me know I'm actually doing something," he said. "If I wasn't doing anything, they wouldn't have to double-team me. I'm just going to keep working on getting better. Just attitude out there to have more aggressiveness and want to get the ball, want to make plays."
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