Once thought to be untouchable, like Elliot Ness, the state of California is now in full breach as the top corner on the West Coast has announced his intentions to leave the Golden State. His destination, the Sunshine State.
California is known for its endless miles of beaches, the Mojave Desert, and the Redwood-Douglas fir forests of the northwest. It is also known for some of the nation's top high school football players, enter Joshua Shaw.
A 6-1 and 183-pound shut down corner, Shaw from Palmdale High School is the No. 13 ranked corner in America. He has all the intangibles college coaches dream about with his size, speed, hips and his ability to play press coverage. High school coaches across the state have quickly caught on as they instruct their quarterbacks to avoid him at all cost. Shaw broke onto the scene during his junior season where he earned the label "Shut Down Corner."
Junior Season Stats:
Four interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two caused fumbles, 40 solo tackles
27 receptions for 433 yards
Five carries for 133 yards
Senior Season Stats (through 10 games):
1,586 passing yards, 687 rushing yards
One 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown
Two punt return touchdowns
For Shaw and his family, mother Venus and father James, today's press conference from Palmdale was nothing more than a mere formality announcing their intentions to become a part of the Gator Nation. The entire Shaw family fell in love with everything Gainesville had to offer back in mid-September when they took their official visit as the Gators hosted the Tennessee Volunteers.
"I realized during my trip," Shaw said. "I only went back unofficially because I wanted to see if I would be happy living there. And once I felt comfortable with the environment and dorms I knew I was in."
The University of Florida can be a magical place at times not only for recruits but for parents as well. The September trip not only sold the 6-1 and 183-pound lock down corner but his parents knew their son would wear Orange and Blue.
"It was our first trip out to Gainesville that my wife and I felt really comfortable with Coach Meyer," James Shaw said. "His demeanor, his professionalism, and attitude are just some of the great qualities that Coach Meyer carries. So on the trip home my wife said to me that this is the place for Josh. I feel really good about Florida. In fact she started to cry knowing that our son will be playing for a coach that she felt showed that he cares about our son."
The family atmosphere among the coaches, players, wives, administrative assistants and everyone involved with the Florida football program is something the Shaw family noticed right away and especially mom and dad.
"The coaching staff of Florida, well let's just say are unprecedented. Very professional, the atmosphere, the warmth that my wife and I felt. Coach Meyer is just awesome, my wife and I know that Josh will be in great hands."
For Shaw this is a day he has thought about for a long time and he and his family felt blessed throughout this process but now it's time to end the recruiting process.
"I am honestly getting a little tired of the process. The hardest part has been managing recruiting along with school, family time, and football. I want to focus on my team as we begin our playoff push starting this Friday (11/20). I know where my heart is, which is with the Gators, so there is no point of waiting."
It's not every year the Gators land arguably one of the top players from the West Coast and the staff couldn't be happier with his decision.
"They were very happy. Almost shocked. It's not every year that you get a top recruit from California headed to the University of Florida. This is special. I was with my parents along with Coach Meyer and his wife Shelly in the office when I told him I am in.
Urban Meyer is one of the top recruiting head coaches in America and is one of the reasons Shaw decided he wants to play for the Florida Gators but it's not the only reason.
"I have had the closest bond with Coach Meyer than any other coach in the country. He has made me his personal recruit. We talk almost every day. With Coach Bedford I know he is the best of the best when it comes to teaching corners. Even coaches from other BCS schools have told me that, and that is a huge complement, I can't wait to play for him and learn from him."
For Shaw, the thought of joining a team that could win its third BCS Title in four years is very appealing but was not a deciding factor.
"It is very exciting. But because they are the No. 1 team in the nation is not why I have chosen Florida. It has been many factors that have led into this decision. I fit in perfect with the Gators' style of defense. I am aggressive just like they are. I am a tall, fast, big, smart, and an athletic corner. They run a lot of man-to-man, which I love. I love being in the receiver's face."
Mr. and Mrs. Shaw are equally as excited their son is headed to play in the Southeastern Conference.
"We are very excited for Josh. Now he has the chance to play football on Saturdays in front of the entire nation, to showcase his talent on a D-1 level."
Mr. and Mrs. Shaw have been heavily involved throughout the entire recruiting process since the beginning. For James and Venus there was one defining moment in which they felt their son was destined to major college football.
"The trip that we took up North. Stanford University Nike Camp. One of three camps, already attending the Under Armour and Scout.com camps. Josh proved that he was a top cornerback at the camp. His physical play brought him much attention. Going one-on-one with the top receiver and shutting him down each time they met on the line. From that point forward my wife and I knew."
Josh Shaw has always been gifted when it comes to the game of football. It has been evident ever since he first started playing organized football.
"Josh was about seven years old his first year of football," James Shaw said. "Remembering when the coach wanted to make a change and move him from running back to quarterback. As he ran many quarterback sweeps for touchdowns, we knew he was going to be a special athlete during his first year of football."
Bob Redman -- Fightin' Gators Insider Instant Analysis
Shaw demonstrates the two things that Florida head coach Urban Meyer and defensive back coach Vance Bedford look for in a cornerback... tremendous ball skills and very physical.
Watching his game film he plays bigger than his 6-1, 180-pound profile suggests. He dominates defenders when he gets the ball and is equally as physical when guarding receivers.
Seeing what he can do with the ball in his hands as a receiver and a quarterback assures the staff that Shaw has ball skills to make himself easily coached and ready to be a playmaker.
Greg Powers -- Publisher Sooners Illustrated
I had the chance to see Shaw twice up close and person this year. The first time I saw him he was locking down some of the best receivers in the country at the New Level 7v7 tourney in Las Vegas. At that point in the recruiting game he was not as highly celebrated as he is now, but he grabbed your eye right out of the gate. He has NFL size - right now - at corner. But he also has great hips and athleticism, and that combination along with sound fundamentals allows him to be very physical in man coverage. Only the slickest and strongest receivers are able to get off the line on him.
Later in the year I was able to see Shaw again at the Scout.com Combine in Los Angeles. His performance there was even more impressive than his performance in Vegas. He tested well in the drills, but he absolutely dominated in the 1v1 portion of the event. He never got beat. One receiver, who holds a number of D-1 offers, was not able to even get off the jam. I have seen a lot of 1v1 competitions, but I have never seen a corner keep the receiver from getting off the line long enough that the coach was forced to blow the play dead. It's easy to see why every top college program in the country offered.
Brandon Huffman -- West Recruiting Manager
Scouting Report: Shaw has the height and length that college coaches, and NFL coaches for that matter, drool over in a cornerback's body. He's a skilled athlete, he can play corner, safety, quarterback, receiver or running back (all which he has for Palmdale). He's strong in press coverage and the physical nature of his game makes it difficult for receivers to get past him at the line of scrimmage. He's a real fluid athlete, and has very good hips, important for a corner. Fundamentally, is making huge strides, seeing him in the spring to late summer you could see how much more natural he looked in his technique. He's still relatively lean but could probably hold another 15-20 pounds. As he continues to add more strength, he'll be even more difficult to get past.
Overall Analysis: Shaw is the top cornerback prospect in the West, and one of the best all-around athletes in the entire region. He's similar to Robert Golden, now starting at Arizona as a sophomore, our top cornerback two years ago, in their style of play, ability to cover and willingness to be physical. He's one of the better defensive back prospects we've seen in the last couple of years, and the best prospect we've seen out of the Antelope Valley in the past five years.