Josh Shirley, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound four-star outside linebacker from Henry Kaiser High School in Fontana, Calif., says he now has 22 offers and continues to favor the same eight programs.
"USC and UCLA are recruiting me the most," Shirley said. "I have a real good relationship with coaches at both schools.
"I talked with (recruiting coordinator/tight ends) coach Brennan Carroll, Pete Carroll and (linebackers) coach Ken Norton, Jr.," he said. "They told me to visualize myself as a linebacker at USC and how I could help the team.
"I also talked with coach Rick Neuheisel, (defensive coordinator) Chuck Bullough, and (graduate assistant/defense) Clark Lea at UCLA," he said. "They like me a lot too. They said I could play early and would be a big factor in their defense."
"UCLA looked totally different this year," Shirley said. "Everybody was flying around and all the players were giving a lot of effort and playing with energy. I liked what I saw…they are definitely on the way up."
"USC was a little rocky in the beginning but they worked it out," he said. "They looked good after that and I like how hard they played. I loved how the defense swarmed to the ball on every play.
Shirley, ranked as the No. 8 outside linebacker in the country by Scout.com, hasn't set up any official visits yet but says he doesn't plan on officially visiting either the Bruins or the Trojans.
"I went to camps at UCLA and USC," he said. "And I'll probably go to a few games. I'm saving my visits for schools that are out of the area.
"I'm thinking about those now and I should have a visit or two set up within the next week or so," he said.
One official visit that Shirley definitely plans on taking is to Notre Dame.
"I really want to go see them," he said. "Everyone says how great it is over there and how amazing it is and I just need to go see them for myself."
Another program that Shirley's likely to visit officially is Tennessee. "I saw some of the highlights of their game against Western Kentucky ( 63-7 rout)," he said. "And they are ruthless. They kept scoring."
Although California is only a few hours drive to the north, Shirley hasn't visited Berkeley yet and says he likes the Bears. "They always seem to be pretty good," he said. "I know the academics are great and I need to see them for myself."
He says he's already spoken with Bears defensive backs coach Al Simmons this month as well.
One program whose coaches haven't called Shirley since Sept. 1 is Washington, but he admits he's still very interested in the Huskies. "I like that they are rebuilding," he said. "I think I could be part of something special and help them turn over a new leaf."
Shirley says he only saw the fourth quarter of the Huskies hard-fought 31-23 loss to SEC powerhouse LSU.
He says he doesn't plan on making a decision until after his official visits. "I'll wait and make a well thought-out decision," he said. "It's a very important process and I want to do it right."
So what's it going to come down to for Shirley? "It's about how I feel," he said. "You can walk down the campus and just know the school is for you – you feel it."
One thing that Shirley says won't factor into his decision is the won/loss record. "Everybody can have a bad game," he said. "I'm watching the games, but mostly just checking out my position and how the defense looks. I want to see effort and make sure the team is fighting hard, but if they lose that's not really that important."
Kaiser High School opens their 2009 season on Friday, Sept. 11 when they travel up to Apple Valley.
Shirley reports a 3.3 core GPA and 1250 three-part SAT.