Doesn’t pass the eye test.
Not D1 material.
These were the conclusions that many arrived at when talking about current SDSU wide receiver Mekhi Shaw just out of high school and on the recruiting trail.
Year after year prep athletes from all across the country post their highlight film, send out mass tweets & DM’s, or call in to someone they know may have a connection to a University.
Believe us—we know.
At Sons of Montezuma our social media is contacted on a daily basis with these specific kind of notifications. We are humbled and appreciative for these youngsters perception and thoughtfulness.
But what is the goal for each one? Simple … to get noticed and in turn, get that elusive and expensive D1 scholarship.
Division 1 FBS teams can give out a maximum of 85 full-ride scholarships to student-athletes. Division 1 FCS programs provide even fewer, reaching a maximum of just 63 total scholarships.
For Mekhi Shaw, he was more than connected. As a matter of fact, he is a branch off one of the richest football family trees in San Diego County.
And yet, Mekhi Shaw still was not on anyone’s 85 count.
“We are proud of the Shaw family lineage,” said Adria Shaw, Mekhi’s mother.
“His Uncle Willie actually just texted my husband the other day and said David Shaw’s oldest son is playing for UCLA as a Wide receiver also.”
You guessed it. The father & son duo Willie Shaw and David Shaw, are the uncle and first cousin of Mekhi’s father, Mike Shaw.
Willie Shaw, now 79 years old, is a Lincoln high school alum turned longtime defensive coach whose career spanned over 30 years from both the college level to the NFL.
Not to be left out is Willie’s brother Nate Shaw, also a Lincoln High Hornet who went on to be an All-American at USC before playing for the LA Rams. Nate eventually found his way back to USC as a long time defensive backs coach in the 80’s.
Willie who served in the Air Force and in the Vietnam War after Lincoln, then went on to play at the University of New Mexico before he completed his education at San Diego State (though he did not play football as part of the Aztecs).
As a fixture on the defensive staff for the Stanford Cardinal from ’88 to ’91, Willie was close but was ultimately looked over for the head coach position when the legendary Bill Walsh was hired in 1992.
Willie would then go on to several successful coaching hires through out the NFL, including the defensive backs coach for the Super Bowl bound San Diego Chargers team of 1994.
Despite son David Shaw attending Stanford and competing athletically on the football team as a wide receiver, the Shaw family vindication wouldn’t come full circle until David was hired 19 years later as the head coach.
There David ascended the Cardinal to new heights from 2011-2022 winning 3 PAC-12 titles, and 2 Rose Bowl victories.
Quite the football legacy. But the Shaw family connection isn’t exactly crystal clear however.
“You know I’ve never really thought too hard about any of that, because I’ve actually never met David Shaw myself.” confirms Mekhi in his exclusive interview on the Sons of Montezuma Podcast.
For Mekhi’s father Mike Shaw, the immediate relationship with his own father wasn’t available. And with that, his childhood upbringing didn’t include the opportunity to play football. It just wasn’t something he was raised to do.
In fact, by his mother’s wishes he was steered clear away from it.
“It definitely is something I keep in the back of my mind. I will see David Shaw on TV and think ‘Oh that guys related to me’. Sometimes it kind of motivates me a little bit, it’s part of the reason why I work so hard, because I try to carry on that lineage. I used to love watching Stanford growing up.”
Despite all that, it hasn’t stopped Mike & Adria Shaw from encouraging their sons Mekhi (and Jalen at nearby USD) from pursuing their dreams on the gridiron.
“Mekhi may not have grown up around his cousins, but he’s a Shaw and it’s in his blood.” says Adria. “We raised Mekhi to know that he’s gotta work for what he wants and that just because his family is connected, we won’t seek favors or handouts based on his name and who you know.“
And work is exactly what Mekhi did.
Back in 2020, in his redshirt freshman season, Mekhi was a preferred-walk on in the Aztecs Football program. A two way player at the cornerback/wide receiver position, Shaw played his high school ball locally in San Diego County at Scripps Ranch high.
“I had to talk to a lot of D3 private liberal arts schools that were kind of local—LA, Orange County area. I also talked to a couple D2 schools that were pretty far away. I didn’t really consider going to them, but it was nice to post on Twitter because that’s usually what brings in other offers,” admits Shaw.
The only other FBS attention he received besides SDSU? The University of Nevada Reno. They offered Mekhi a preferred walk-on opportunity—of which he committed to.
That was until hometown San Diego State offered the same.
“I was just a lot smaller than I am now. And I hadn’t really played receiver too much in high school. I’m also younger too. I’m still 20 now … I could be in the grade below.”
When Mekhi committed to the Aztecs, he ended up spending that redshirt development year working solely with the cornerbacks.
In 2021 he earned playing time making the switch to the wide receiver position. Once there, coaches saw in him the potential to grow and he began to work in hopes of following a similar path of fellow local wide receiver and former walk-on, Jesse Matthews.
“He (Jesse) always had football on his mind. I felt like he was probably the hardest worker on the team … always working on his game. That’s a big inspiration to me because I felt like if I needed to get that scholarship I needed to prove something and the fastest way to do that is to show results on the field.“
“When I first came to SDSU I was at 160 lbs. Coach Sumler was always telling me to gain weight. So I tried my best to and after a year I gained like twelve or fifteen pounds. I was like 170 and I kind of hovered around there for a good two years.”
These kind of example keys in on the Aztecs success and how they’ve been able to send 26 players to NFL camps in just this 2023 season alone… it’s done through having an eye for true potential and a commitment to development.
The fruit of all that hard work and development began to pay off last year. In his first go at it with real meaningful snaps Shaw had a breakout season when the Red & Black needed it the most. Notching 29 catches for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns, things first began to heat up for Shaw at home against Hawaii on the game’s winning drive.
It was newly appointed QB1 Jalen Mayden‘s first start at the position and having Shaw there in the slot proved to be a target of comfortability. The new found chemistry between Shaw and Mayden has since been a thing of beauty.
“When he switched to DB, me and Jalen started talking more because he would talk a little smack … I’d joke around with him a little bit. And when he made the switch to QB it was only up from there, you know we just got to know each other better and built that chemistry.” Shaw told the Sons of Montezuma Podcast.
“I enjoy working with Jalen … He’s a more patient QB. He likes to take his reads right. I think a lot of it goes to coach Lindley as well, the way he’s setting up the offense and what he’s doing there.“
A patient QB is right. In fact, Shaw’s first touchdown came against San Jose State where he was a check down option in the play’s route. Running across the defense Mayden found him in stride. Shaw outran his defender to the edge, slid passed another’s shoe lace tackle attempt and crossed the goal line.
His second and third touchdowns came on the same night on a cold roadtrip in New Mexico. The latter of which was a play so instinctual it would make Jerry Rice smile. With the Aztecs up 14-7, Mayden dropped back to pass around the 30 yard line of New Mexico. There he had a clean pocket and found Mekhi up the seam.
Sandwiched between two defenders, one behind and one ahead of him, Shaw ran just outside the left hash lines and Mayden brilliantly placed the ball between them where only Shaw could get it.
But that’s only half of the play.
Shaw, running in stride, secured the catch with the defender ahead and in perfect position to annihilate him. Mekhi without missing a beat did his best matador impression, took a side step and then became the bull himself by dragging the backside defender with him into the end zone.
You could see the potential turning into results and all Aztec Nation knew what had to be done. After displaying the kind of clutch performances that helped salvage the season, the reminder that he was doing so with that walk-on status and without financial assistance, Shaw was given the teams most inspirational player of the year award.
On top of that, Mekhi was rewarded for all his hard work when he was announced to have earned a full-ride scholarship. By now all Aztec Nation has seen the moment, when Shaw was presented with the news by head coach Brady Hoke.
It’s a proud moment for Mekhi. One that validates all the hard work, on and off the field, where he had taken on jobs outside of school to aid with his family’s financial support. Now that he’s on scholarship and able to live on campus, he can give more focus and attention on becoming the best student-athlete he can be this upcoming season.
He spent this summer working out mornings with the team and trainer Adam Hall. And now firmly at a new weight around 188-190 lbs. the goal is to add strength and explosiveness to go up and get more of those 50-50 balls in the air.
But that’s not all. Mekhi prides himself on his academics first and foremost. The Biology major is a two-time Mountain West scholar athlete of the year and plans on pursuing being a nurse when football is all said & done.
That is what makes his parents Mike & Adria so proud today.
And as far as how the rest of the family tree feels? Mike & Adria make sure to share with uncle Willie & the rest of the Shaws to keep growing together as a family.
“We are still in contact with them and they support Mekhi to the max!” says Adria.
“They all 100% support Mekhi and watch him play. We are so proud to be Shaws and they are so proud that he is a Shaw. They’re always commenting that it runs in the family.”
To listen to the full exclusive interview with more information with SDSU WR #83 Mekhi Shaw, click below for Sons of Montezuma episode #129. And please support Mekhi today with his Showtime Show Collection in our NIL Shop!