Final Spring Practice: Shaw Cleared to Play

The final practice report of the Trojans' 2012 spring season, including Josh Shaw getting his waiver approved, Hayes Pullard accepting a veteran role and more.

The Trojans' final practice of the spring season Thursday was overshadowed by some bigger news. Early enrollee and Florida transfer Josh Shaw had been finally cleared by the NCAA to play immediately in 2012.

"It's like the happiest day of my life right here," Shaw said to a throng of media.

Since January the defensive back had been twiddling his thumbs, answering questions and waiting to hear from the institution that would determine his fate next year. Just a few weeks ago former Trojan Amir Carlisle's waiver was accepted by the NCAA and was cleared to play at Notre Dame in the fall.

Coach Kiffin said he wasn't sure whether Shaw would be cleared, despite Carlisle having the same success.

"No like I said the other day I don't think I'd be surprised. Because I don't know how they figure it out and some (players) that I think are going to work, don't, and some that I don't think are going to work, do," he said. So I don't think I would have been surprised either way."

Many players have talked about Shaw as a legitimate threat in the Trojans' secondary. His experience in the SEC, his head coach said Thursday, will give him a solid chance at cracking into the starting rotation.

"Sure he could (play early)," Kiffin said. "We've seen him run around and move around before he got hurt and so it'll be great. Not just on defense but obviously special teams.

"Anytime with the reduced roster like we have, that you could get somebody like that, to be at 75 and have guys that are not going to be eligible to play obviously is tough. So it was good."

After enduring a fractured rib the past few months, Shaw expects to be fully healthy by "next week or the week after."

Asked whether there's any tool in his game that separates him from the other defensive backs, Shaw said it would be his roommate, T.J. McDonald.

"Every day I'm asking him questions. That guy he knows football, now. We were up last night until about 1 a.m. just going over football stuff and he really knows his stuff so I pick his brain as much as I can and I know it's going to help me when I get out here."

The Palmdale (Calif.) native is open to play either cornerback and safety, but expects to start at safety and move as the coaches see where "he fits best."

Hayes Heeding Veteran Role

While he's just a redshirt freshman, Hayes Pullard is being looked at as a veteran to fellow linebackers. The relatively young core is led by outside tacklers Pullard and Dion Bailey, but Pullard said he's still learning from his elders.

"I kind of want to take that role but I still want to take a backseat, still listening to T.J. and them and Wes and Devon Kennard, still look up to them and try and follow them right now."

"Me, Dion, Lamar (Dawson), we're trying to master as much as we can so we can show the younger guys -- just in case anything does happen, we have them to step in right away and show out," he said.

True freshman Anthony Sarao said he's asking Pullard as many questions as he can stand.

"Really with Hayes, whenever I got a question I just ask him," Sarao said. "if I got a question and forget it or something I usually ask him and he lets me know like as a coach.

"He's seen it in a real game so it's way different in practice, it's much faster in the game."

Final Thoughts on the Final Day

Players did not wear pads Thursday, but will don them for the Spring Game, although the "no tackling" rule will remain through the end of the offseason to prevent further injury.

Out Thursday included Marquis Simmons who wore a boot on his right foot and used crutches, Victor Blackwell who had an injury to his foot, Ryan Henderson an issue with his knee and Randall Telfer too remained out, likely for that same pulled hamstring.

USC's newest commit Max Browne was in attendance again Thursday, and he met many administrators during the practice, including USC president Max Nikias.

Since appearing at the scrimmage Saturday, quarterback Jesse Scroggins has not appeared at a practice this week.

Antwaun Woods ran with the "ones" some today, a line that included George Uko at the three-technique, Devon Kennard at left end and Wes Horton on the right.

Coach Kiffin said he had two primary goals for Saturday's spring scrimmage: to keep players healthy and to assess down-the-line guys that could make an impact in 2012 that showed flashes this offseason.

Two interceptions of the day include Brian Baucham and Nickell Robey. Robey also had an interception in man coverage drills.

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