Shirley Gets Noticed as a LB

The 6-3, 220-pound defensive end from Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser, Josh Shirley, has never played linebacker, but college coaches like his size and athleticism for the position. He talked to us about it and his recruitment so far...

Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser linebacker/defensive end Josh Shirley (6-3, 220) knows that linebacker is his likely destination in college.

So Shirley, who has played with his hand down his whole career at Kaiser, is going to camps to work on playing the linebacker position. If his performance in Las Vegas at the Scout/Badger 7on7 Tournament last weekend is any indication, it should be a smooth transition.

Shirley showed that he could play the position well, showing good lateral movement, coverage skills and ability to read the offense.

So far, two schools have offered Shirley, with plenty of attention coming his way. He said, "Fresno State and San Diego State have offered me and I'm hearing a lot from Arizona, Tennessee and UCLA right now."

The latter two schools are the ones Shirley is the highest on. "I'm liking UCLA and Tennessee a lot right now and they're about equal," said Shirley. "I was invited and supposed to go to UCLA's Junior Day on Saturday but I was in Vegas instead so I couldn't go. But I'll be going to their Spring Game and spring practices. I've been talking a lot with (UCLA assistant) Coach (Wayne) Moses."

But Shirley isn't settling for just that short list. I also really like schools like Georgia, LSU and Cal," he said. "I'm trying to send my tape everywhere and get as many opportunities as I can."

He likes that the schools that have offered are both in-state programs, and he has family ties with one of them. "Pat Hill is recruiting me at Fresno State and I'm very familiar with them," Shirley said. "I've been around them since the fifth grade when my brother (current Cincinnati Bengal, Jason Shirley), played there."

Shirley knows most schools like him as a linebacker, even though he plays defensive end and defensive tackle for Kaiser. "If I grow into my feet, I could play anywhere in college, but a lot depends on the formation," said Shirley. "I want to be at 230 by fall and up to 235 by the time I get to college. I'm going to camps to show what I could do standing up and that I can play linebacker."

Shirley said he's a fan of old school football tapes, and one player he's always admired is Deacon Jones. "He's kind of older but I look up to Deacon Jones," said Shirley. "A newer guy is Dwight Freeney. I love how both played the position."

Shirley said he's in no rush to make a decision. "I want to take all my time, see what my opportunities are. I'd like to take all five visits," said Shirley. "I'm looking for things like the academics of a school and the way they run their program."

Shirley had a big junior year, earning First Team All-State Underclass and Third Team All-Golden State honors by, one of only ten underclassmen selected to the All-Golden State team. He finished the year with 88 tackles, 17 sacks, 12 knocked-down passes and three forced fumbles.

A solid student, Shirley has a 3.3 GPA and will take the SAT in May. He was an all-Sunkist League Academic pick.

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