"I moved last year when Coach Meyer was here when I asked him if I could make the move to safety," Joshua Shaw said. "He and Coach Heater said I could give it a shot. We tried it out a little bit and I was able to move to safety. I just knew Ahmad Black was leaving and I had it in my mind that Will Hill would also, so I just figured two open spots would be a better chance for me to get a job."
Shaw used his experience as a high school quarterback to give him a better idea how to play safety. He had to make big decisions with the ball in his hands in high school, so seeing plays develop in front of him from the safety spot wasn't new. It felt like a natural fit from the first time Shaw lined up there.
The biggest difference from cornerback to safety for Shaw has been the involvement in the run defense. In Muschamp's defense, the Gators won't use a true free safety and strong safety. Instead, Florida will put its best two safeties on the field and both safeties must be comfortable playing in the box to stop the run.
"This defense is all about putting our best two safeties on the field at the same time," Shaw said. "I think it fits well with the players we have."
The transition off the field for Shaw came in studying. He felt comfortable with the playbook last season, but just when he learned it, Urban Meyer left and Will Muschamp was hired. That involved learning a new playbook.
"The playbook now is probably the hardest," Shaw said. "Safeties have to know everything in the defense. We're the ones making all the calls and making all of our adjustments. We're the knowledge of the defense."
The competition at the safety position looks like it has thinned out. Matt Elam seems like a lock to start at one of the safety positions. Josh Evans is likely the favorite for the other position because of his time on the field last season when Hill didn't play. Shaw doesn't have the on-field experience of Elam or Evans, but his athleticism makes him an intriguing option.
It's only his second year on campus, but the redshirt freshman doesn't want to waste any time on the bench. He knows the purpose of this fall is to go out and earn a starting position, especially since it's the reason he switched positions.
"My mindset is to go out and win a job," Shaw said.