Two seasons ago, LSU head coach Les Miles reeled in the nation’s No. 1 defensive back in Florida native Patrick Johnson (now Peterson). For 2009, new defensive backs coach Ron Cooper has gotten pledges from cornerbacks Ronnie Vinson and Tyrann Mathieu, a pair of in-state prospects who have drawn great reviews.
With Chris Hawkins set to graduate and Jai Eugene moving into his final year with the program, Cooper and the Tigers could fit another cornerback into the class – if the name is the right one.
One name that Cooper has his eye on is Joshua Shaw, the nation’s No. 13 ranked cornerback prospect. After the Tiger staff cooled their contact on the four-star, Shaw said that LSU got back into the picture last week when they asked him to come in for a visit.
He and his family jumped on a plane, and Saturday afternoon Shaw was on the Tiger campus.
“It was really fun, just a super crazy atmosphere,” he said. “My parents were saying the same thing. And one of my uncles played at LSU, and he talked to me about how well they take care of you.
“We got to campus about 4 or 5 p.m., and we ate for a bit in the Lawton Room and hung with some other recruits,” he added. “I saw Cassius Marsh, who I know from Oaks Christian. I also talked with some other guys, so that was fun.”
More relationships were formed with the Tiger players later in the weekend, as Marsh said a couple of LSU offensive talents took him under their wing as his own.
“Steven Ridley was my host, and he is probably the coolest dude I met out of all my trips,” Shaw said. “Steven was the best. He was just a trip.
“I also hung with Trindon Holliday a good bit. We played some cards and stuff when I was hanging around on Sunday. It was funny to see how small he actually was, but he can tear it up. He broke it down to me and said how he ran a 4.27 for [Nick] Saban at a NIKE camp and how he now wants to break that at the NFL combine.”
As for the game, Shaw said he liked what he saw from both defenses.
“I expected a good game,” he said. “I have interest in both LSU and Florida, but I bought me an LSU sweater and did my thing in the stands. I sat with most of the official visitors, and we just cheered and had fun.”
The play of the cornerbacks, from Patrick Peterson to Joe Haden, was Shaw’s main focus.
“Florida’s corners play with so much swagger, and I could see myself fitting in there,” he said. “Then, I see Peterson and I want to be like that, too. The LSU coaches told me how Peterson came in and now is starting over Hawkins and Eugene, and I could make a similar impact.
“I felt like a priority.”
On Sunday, four-star prospect out of Palmdale High said that he and his family were able to have more one-on-one time with the staff.
“We must have been with Miles in his office for over an hour,” Shaw said. “He went into depth on a lot of things. He was real funny too, and so was Cooper. He had us laughing the whole time. It was good to see that side of them. It put LSU in a really good spot.”
While everything went smooth in Baton Rouge, the return trip did not bode as well for the Shaw family.
“It was a good trip, besides going home,” he laughed. “We were supposed to leave at 7 on Monday, so we got there at 6 a.m. and didn’t leave until 1:30 that afternoon. Then we had a three-hour lay over in Houston.
“It was bad.”
With visits already made to Florida, Ohio State and LSU, Shaw now has his sights set on two final visits and then a decision.
“I will go to Notre Dame and then go see Oklahoma,” he said. “I am going to come out with some top schools after the fifth visit. I want to settle down on three coaches or whatever it may be, that way it will be easier to decide.
“LSU took a big step forward this weekend,” he added. “After not hearing from them, things have really changed.”
Shaw, a December graduate, will enroll in the school of his choice in January 2010.
Note: Palmdale is 3-2 on the year with Shaw starting at quarterback and cornerback.
Shaw has completed 45-of-99 passes (45.5%) for 872 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He's added 398 yards and three touchdowns rushing on 45 carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, Shaw has 16 tackles – seven solos and nine assists – and has blocked a field goal. He also averages 29.3 yards on eight kick returns and 11 yards on a pair of punt returns.