Former Florida defensive back Josh Shaw was a hotly-recruited prospect out of Palmdale High in the Class of 2010 and chose the Gators over the Trojans. After sitting out his first season because of a knee injury but playing considerable snaps this past year, the 6-2, 195-pounder decided to transfer closer to his home in nearby Palmdale because of health issues within his family.
He considered UCLA but chose the Trojans earlier this month and quickly enrolled in school and began participating in team strength-training workouts. Shaw has been an active participant in the unofficial players-only throwing sessions that took place Tuesday and Thursday of this week, lining up at corner and defending receivers like Marqise Lee and Victor Blackwell in one-on-one situations.
ESPNLosAngeles.com caught up with him after Thursday’s throwing session.
Question: You’ve been here for two weeks. How do you feel? Can you see yourself being comfortable here?
Answer: I’m just out here trying to get my feet wet. I really haven’t lined up at corner in about a year, so I’m just out here trying to get my feet wet. I feel pretty comfortable though, especially with an All-American back there in T.J. (McDonald), my roommate, who can navigate me through everything. It’s a start.
Did you come here to play corner? You’d be one of the bigger corners in college football.
The coaches know I can play both. They know I can play safety and they know I can play corner also. But I would rather play corner, definitely.
I just like what I can bring to the team. I’d bring another physical corner over there with Nickell (Robey) on the other side. He’s a physical guy himself, short and all but with so much heart. I can bring another physical presence to the perimeter over there.
Have you seen another college corner like Nickell? He seems pretty unique.
I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s the real deal. I’ve heard about him back in Florida, but seeing him out here on Thursday -- man, he’s the real deal. Also I got with him and told him, ‘Show me the ropes. You’ve started here for two years. Show me the ropes and I’ll follow them.’
Do you think you’d have an easier chance to play early at corner or safety?
Really both. Whatever the team needs, to be honest. Because I know I can do both. And my confidence level is pretty high right now. You know, at Florida we didn’t do 7-on-7 like this. So with me doing this right now, it’s giving me a lot of good prep for spring ball, I feel like.
On that note, how important is it for you to be able to participate in spring practice? You can practice regardless of whether or not your hardship waiver is granted, but it would obviously change the focus a lot.
Once the NCAA rules, if it’s granted or it’s not, then the coaches will have a better idea what to do with me. Right now, of course, I’m ineligible because there hasn’t been a ruling yet. And if I am declared eligible then they can mess with me out there in the spring.
Do you feel sort of weird about the whole waiver process? You know, putting your fate in someone else’s hands and all.
I have no control over it at all, and this is the first time in my life I’ve been in this type of situation, coming from playing last year to maybe sitting out right now. I’m not taking anything for granted, man. I’m out here getting older and I realize that. I’m training myself as if I am going to be able to play. I have a good case. I came home for a reason.
Reports on this have varied from definitely-going to not-close-at-all. What’s the truth -- how close were you to going to UCLA after you decided to transfer from Florida?
I was pretty close to going to UCLA. But after weighing all my options, me and my family, we decided it was best for me to come home. I always felt like USC was home. If there was one place that was home, it was this place. I grew up watching 'SC football. That being said though, I think I’ll be the first player from my high school to come here to USC, which is pretty cool.
So, you’ll now have spent time at two of the biggest athletic schools in the country. Compare them a bit. What’s Florida like?
Man, basketball’s pretty big at UF. I’ve heard the team is not too good here. But I’ll check it out one time when they play a big team. And, honestly, down there, they live and die with football. I got to see some of the best atmospheres all around in college football in LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina. You see it all. I haven’t played in the Pac-12 yet, so I don’t know. But, rooming with T.J., he tells me that when they played at Oregon it was crazy and everything, so I’m looking forward it.
So there’s now four kids with Florida ties on the team: You, Nickell, running back Javorious Allen and safety Jawanza Starling. It’s kind of funny that three of you are defensive backs, no?
Yep, Jawanza. It’s his last year out here and he knows the defense too. All I’m trying to do right now is receive. Keep my mouth shut, work hard and earn some respect from the guys. But this was a good decision for me, coming in, because I know a lot of the guys. As a transfer, you want to go somewhere where you’re comfortable. And I’m definitely comfortable here.