Incoming freshman linebacker, Josh Shirley, was released by UCLA yesterday as coach Rick Neuheisel released Shirley, Shaquille Richardson, and Paul Richardson, from their Letter of Intents and are able to sign elsewhere and enroll immediately.
All three players were involved in a "bag-snatching" incident on June 23, which they were arrested for. Both Shaquille and Paul Richardson were released on $20,000 bail, but Shirley was bailed without pay. It could be that Shirley was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, but we will find out soon enough as the tri face a felony theft charge.
USC was not known to recruit the Richardson cousins, but was after Shirley's signature on USC's Letter of Intent. The linebacker from Fontana, Calif. was thought to be committed to USC until he said publicly on National Letter of Intent Day that he will be joining the UCLA Bruins.
Now that Shirley has sailed away from the Bruins after five months, could he be right back in USC's arms?
Yes, USC should look at Shirley:
One of the main questions surrounding the USC depth chart is how their linebackers will fare entering the 2010-11 season. The football squad is relatively thin at the linebacker position and with the recent transfers from Jordan Campbell and Jarvis Jones (Doctors would not able to clear him due to a neck injury) and the imminent LOI release from Glen Stanley, USC needs all the help it can get.
Shirley was a four-star rated linebacker from both recruiting sites Rivals.com and Scout.com for the class of 2010 and one of the highest rated prospects in California. He also participated in the Army All-American Bowl in January. The 6-foot-2, 220 pounder could see early playing time and provide help in the middle.
With Shirley's availability advantage, he is able to enroll as part of the 2010 class, not 2011, which a scholarship would count as part of the 2010 class, which USC signed only 18 of the 25 possible.
No, USC should stay away from Shirley:
With the recent punishments the NCAA handed down on USC, bringing in a player with a pending felony charge could really damage USC as they have appealed some punishments from the report. USC is in "we need to stay as clean as we can" mode and recruiting Shirley may not be in USC's best interests.
Shirley also spurned USC on LOI day as previously mentioned and may have been part of the "players" that Lane Kiffin mentioned that are not "USC material", which he said on the concluding moments of LOI day.
With that said, the coaches understand the baggage Shirley now carries and may have to pass on him. But they of all people understand that Shirley just entered adulthood and people make irresponsible mistakes at times.
Whatever decision Shirley decides (as he is also linked with Washington University), if he does intend to look at USC, fans should put their faith in the coaches hands to determine if they feel confident that Shirley is clear to join the Trojan family.