Shaw Fighting for a Starting Job

Joshua Shaw came to Florida aware of Urban Meyer's confidence in starting freshmen at cornerback. He watched on television from across the country as Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins started in back-to-back years. When he committed to Florida and decided to enroll for spring practice, he wanted to be the next freshman starter. The stretch run to a starting position is now beginning in fall camp.

"That was a big reason I chose Florida," Joshua Shaw said. "I saw those two guys came in and started as true freshmen. Look at them now."

Janoris Jenkins and Jeremy Brown have taken Shaw under their wing on and off the field. The two have been there to answer any of his questions about the cornerback position, and he admits there have been plenty of them since he came to campus.

The greatest lesson Shaw has learned from Jenkins never came out of the star cornerback's mouth. Watching Jenkins work on the practice field to become elite stuck with Shaw from the first day of spring practice.

"He just wants to be great," Shaw said. "I didn't know that until I got here. He does everything right. If he gets beat, he's going to make sure he doesn't get beat again."

Shaw is currently in a five-man battle for the second starting cornerback position, with Jeremy Brown, Moses Jenkins, Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins as the other contenders. The Florida coaches expect the battle to go throughout fall camp.

"It's something Coach Meyer told me in high school that I would come here and have a shot at playing," Shaw said.

Shaw is benefiting from having a steady position on the field at Florida. At Palmdale (CA) High School, he played safety, cornerback and quarterback because he was almost always the best player on the field.

The move to only cornerback allows him to focus on the techniques of only one position. Extra time outside of practice can now be put in towards focusing on cornerback, instead of using it to keep up to date at other positions.

"I just played safety because our team was hurting back there," Shaw said. "It wasn't too much of a transition, but right now, I'm just playing only defense. That's very beneficial because it helps me focus on one position."

Florida defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Teryl Austin changes his tone when he talks about Shaw. Coaches usually can only dream of 6-1 players who run with ease and have advanced ball skills. Austin now gets to coach one in Shaw, and his potential couldn't be higher.

"You're talking about a big kid," Austin said. "He can run and has a lot of skills. He's a bright kid, and what I see from him is a strong athlete. He has a lot of toughness to him."

Shaw has also caught the eye of the Florida head coach. Meyer singled out Shaw and safety Josh Evans for looking like different players in camp. They both struggled through spring practices, although Evans dealt with a knee injury.

This fall, both players look different. Shaw was able to get into the routine of how the Gators practice and the types of drills they do. It's not unusual for him to be the first player in line for drills this fall because of his improved comfort level.

"(Those guys are) a perfect example of guys that were really not very good players in the spring and all of the sudden, after full weeks of learning how to practice and how to do it our way, we are seeing a completely different player," Meyer said. "I called them up at the end of practice, because they look different.

"They do not just sit in the back of the line and look unsure of how to do a certain drill. They are going and you can see the development in the last few days. There is no question, when you start and a young person has to decide whether to leave high school early--and this all started about five years ago--and get that spring under your belt, that is pretty significant nowadays."

Coming to campus early is what has Shaw in position to see significant playing time in his first year on campus.
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