UCLA Goes Hard After Linebacker

Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser linebacker Josh Shirley, the #10 outside linebacker in the country, didn't name a leader, but said that UCLA is recruiting him the hardest. "I like UCLA a lot," Shirley said...

Josh Shirley, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound four-star outside linebacker/defensive end from Henry Kaiser High School in Fontana, Calif., finished his junior season with 88 tackles (35 assisted), 17 sacks and three fumbles caused.

"I'm very quick and have a great motor," Shirley said. "I have a lot of energy and have good skills at linebacker. I can get to the quarterback and am very intense. I never give up."

He says he can bench 355-pounds, squat 495 and has a 35-inch vertical jump.

"I'm working on bulking up a bit more," he said. "I want to go up against the bigger lineman better and be able to handle them."

Shirley, ranked as the No. 10 outside linebacker in the country by Scout.com, has eight scholarship offers but continues to deny a leader. He does, however, favor UCLA, Tennessee, USC, Arizona and Washington. All have offered as well as Stanford, Fresno State and San Diego State.

"I'm really just looking at how the schools are recruiting me," Shirley said. "I'll be looking at how much they want me and how hard they are recruiting me."

He says the school that is recruiting him the hardest right now is UCLA. "They keep in contact the most," he said.

"I like UCLA a lot," he said. "They have a lot of potential and I like the new coaches. They seem very nice and focused on improving."

Shirley says he's being recruited by UCLA running backs coach Wayne Moses. "He's a good guy," he said. "He said that I'd really be able to do well at UCLA and that I could really benefit them too."

The Bruins are recruiting Shirley for both linebacker and defensive end.

UCLA's cross-town rival, USC, is also recruiting Shirley for both defensive end and linebacker. "I love how aggressive and up-tempo they are at USC," he said. "The practice there was very intense and tough.

"I'm being recruited by (tight ends/recruiting coordinator) coach Brennan Carroll and he's really cool," he said. "He says it's a great opportunity to be part of USC and that I could really make a name for myself."

Another school where Shirley feels he'd be able to make a big impact at is Washington. "They seem to be building the program back up," he said. "They said I could be a big reason for their success and it seems like a good opportunity to play early.

"It would be great to go to a program and contribute," he said. "I'd love to help a team rebuild and really be an impact player for them."

Tennessee is another program with new coaches that is trying to get back to their glory day. "They are in a great conference and play the best every week," he said of the Volunteers. "They are going to be coming up too. They've been recruiting really well already and have great coaches who know how to win."

The Vols only offered Shirley a few days ago and he admits he's still trying to learn more about them.

Shirley is the younger brother of Jason Shirley who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals and was a star at Fresno State. "He says not to let recruiting go to my head," he said. "He told me to stay humble.

"He also said that this is one of the biggest decisions I'll be making and to make sure I do it right," he said.

Shirley doesn't plan on attending any camps this summer.

He reports a 3.3 core GPA and will be taking the SAT in June.

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