Freshman Shaw tested early

Freshman cornerback Joshua Shaw led the Gators with eight total tackles in the Orange and Blue Debut on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 12:34 a.m.

Just a few months removed from being a coup of a signing for the Florida football team, Joshua Shaw said he is beginning to feel more comfortable playing the college game.

A four-star cornerback from Palmdale, Calif., the 6-foot, 189-pound Shaw had his share of up and down moments in last Saturday's Orange and Blue Debut. There, playing for each team, the early enrollee led all Gators with eight total tackles (six for the Orange).

The first play of the game saw him beaten for a 47-yard completion from John Brantley to Deonte Thompson. However, he rebounded one series later by intercepting a pass from fellow freshman Trey Burton and returning it 31 yards.

It was apparent UF coaches were looking to test Shaw.

And following the spring game, coach Urban Meyer joked “I like picking on Josh Shaw” before adding “Shaw, I thought had a good day.”

Hoping to be in the mix to replace early NFL departee (and projected first-round draft pick) Joe Haden in the starting spot opposite Janoris Jenkins, Shaw said he was happy to get the on-the-job training.

“It was great to have all of that work,” said Shaw, who added he has been watching a lot of tape of Jenkins. “Some of it was good, some bad, but I feel like I'm getting better each time out.”

He said he learned on each snap, no matter the result. That is something familiar to Haden.

“When I first got to Florida, Percy Harvin used to beat me all the time,” Haden said on his Pro Day. “But practicing against a guy like him and the other receivers at Florida helps make you into a better player.

“I wouldn't be where I am without that.”

Where Shaw is right now is a long way from home.

He said he went a few weeks using the bus to go everywhere he needed before his family shipped over his car. Now, he has his familiar ride, as well as more familiarity competing in a program that has won two BCS national championships since 2006.

“The speed of the game has been the biggest difference,” Shaw said. “In high school, I was the best pure athlete on the field.

“Here, everybody was that.”

So, he is finding his pre-prom arrival beneficial.

“I'm so glad I came in early,” Shaw said.

John Patton can be reached at 352-374-5074 or by email at

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