COLLEGE PARK, Md. — This is a story about David Shaw, but it is also about worms.
Shaw is a redshirt sophomore defensive lineman at Maryland. He started as a sophomore before his season was derailed by an injury.
But he also knows that when a reporter approaches him after practice, the conversation is almost certainly going to end up veering towards worms. Shaw’s father owns a worm farm, Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, in Spring Grove, Pa.
“I’ll talk about worms. I’m not shy about it,” Shaw said, confirming he had yet to do an interview at Maryland without some worm chatter. “I didn’t mind it growing up. I know my brother when he was little was a little embarrassed by it, and my sisters when they were younger. I kind of just laughed about it. I would say, ‘Yeah, we have a worm farm. What are you going to do about it?’ ”
Given Shaw’s size, he’s currently listed at 6-foot-4 and 296 pounds, if there was any derision in a kid’s tone, the answer was probably nothing. Shaw is the youngest of eight siblings, but he probably didn’t have to deal with anyone chirping at him about his father’s farm.
Since arriving at Maryland, he’s had some teammates who were curious and that’s pretty much been the extent of it.
“Every now and then,” Shaw said about teammates’ approaching the subject. “Probably the biggest thing is I’m not really shy about it. If you fight it, maybe you’ll get it more [teasing], but when you just tell everyone, ‘Yeah, I’m a worm farmer’ they kind of just forget about it.
People buy worms from Uncle Jim’s for fishing, and to feed pets, but his speciality is composting. The website boasts of being the No. 1 supplier of composting worms and composting supplies in the United States.
The Shaw’s have sold lots of types of worms, but the stars of the operation are red wigglers.
“The biggest selling ones are for gardening, composting,” Shaw said. “Like, if you rake up a pile of leaves and put them in some chicken wire to make a compost pile. The worms make it compost faster. The worms do it faster, and the soil is way healthier.”
Shaw is likely to be a key member of the defensive line rotation this season for the new coaching staff. He grew up in the same area that ex-Terps coach Randy Edsall was from, so that was an important component in his recruiting process.
“It was kind of an inside job,” Shaw said. “Edsall has a lot of friends in that area. We played his old school. He was on me before anyone else. Plus it’s only about an hour-and-a-half from here, so I can visit my family pretty easy.”
Shaw’s philosophy about the coaching change has simply been to control what he can, and do what the new staff wants. Even if he felt a personal connection to Edsall, he wasn’t rattled by the changes, and has embraced the new culture D.J. Durkin’s staff is trying to cultivate.
Maybe some of Shaw’s ability to adapt and remain level-headed about the changes is rooted in spending his life embracing his dad’s unique occupation.
He’s comfortable talking about his new coaching staff, and the expectations for Maryland’s season. He is also willing to satisfy anyone’s curiosity about worms.