To be honest, I had not been closely following the offseason goings on around Washington football in the months since Chris Petersen came in and gave their program an upgrade from the previous coaching staff. As expected following a coaching change, there are a few players transferring out. According to Dawgman.com editor Chris Fetters, one of them is a familiar name to Bruins - though not for the best reasons - and may be seeking a final year playing under Coach Mora at UCLA.
The Seattle Times has confirmed the transfer news. And yes, it is that Josh Shirley. For the people reading this who were not around BN or following the Bruins in 2010, Josh was one of three incoming football recruits who stole a backpack belonging to a fellow student while attending the summer session before their freshman year at UCLA. The three were dismissed from the football team and the university, with then-coach Rick Neuheisel offering a way back in if the players attended a JC for a year while staying out of trouble. They all decided to immediately enroll at other universities, with Shirley going to UW.
From what I can tell, Josh has not gotten into any trouble during his four years on Montlake. He was named as an honorable mention to the Pac-12's all-academic team as a redshirt junior following the 2013 season and has earned his degree from UW. That last fact means that he is eligible to transfer to and immediately be eligible to play for another D-1 (FBS) program under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule. While I don't have any idea of how reliable his sources are, Fetters has an idea of where Josh might like to end up.
Will be interesting to see where Josh Shirley ends up. Was told by source close to the situation that UCLA wouldn't turn him away. #UW— Chris Fetters (@Chris_Fetters) July 2, 2014
I don't think that this 'source' brings up UCLA unless there is some interest on Shirley's part to try to come back to UCLA to play his final season. Whatever his interest in returning may be, he would first need to seek a waiver of the Pac-12's intra-conference transfer restriction, which requires a player to sit out a season regardless of whether or not the NCAA allows a transfer without penalty.
If Shirley is able to overcome the Pac-12 rule, his availability raises a few issues - whether or not he can or should be allowed to return to UCLA after his dismissal 4 years ago; how he would fit into the Bruin defense this fall, if Coach Mora actually wants him in the program; and if he really is trying to come back to UCLA or even just return to southern california, why he is passing up rejoining his old UW head coach and defensive coordinator at a program in need of experienced depth.
Given what happened back in 2010, the prospect of Josh Shirley coming back to Westwood is not the clear cut positive case of a graduate transfer like Malcolm Bunche's arrival from Miami. Given that Coach Neuheisel was willing to give Josh a second chance and allow him to return after a year of good behavior, and his seemingly positive record at Washington, I am willing to give him a second chance at UCLA IF Coach Mora and the administration are comfortable with and desire him to return. With that said, I do understand that not everyone will agree on whether he should be welcomed back to our community.