Josh Shaw ruled eligible to play in 2012

Redshirt sophomore safety Josh Shaw announced to reporters following Thursday’s practice that his hardship waiver had been granted a few hours earlier, and he would be eligible to play this season.

“It got approved. I’m good to go,” Shaw said.

He said that the anticipation was tough.

“We were optimistic the whole time, but [since] it took so long … we were like, ‘Man, why is it taking so long?’ But I’m just happy that it’s gotten approved and I’ll be able to play this year,” Shaw said.

Shaw, who recorded 21 tackles while appearing in seven games for the Florida Gators, transferred to USC in early January and had been waiting on news about his playing status since his arrival on campus. He is expected to have an immediate impact on the Trojans’ secondary and possibly compete for a starting job.

“[I want to] come out here and contribute to the team however I can,” Shaw said. “My goal is to be a starter here for the Trojans. This offseason, that’s what I’ll be focusing on.”

Shaw said he will try to adapt to his new surroundings with the help of one of a fellow safety, who he’s getting to know very quickly.

“Honestly, the biggest advantage for me is I’m T.J. McDonald’s roommate,” Shaw said. “So every day I’m asking him questions and he knows football. We were up last night until about 1 a.m. just going over football stuff. He really knows his stuff, so I’ll pick his brain as much as I can. I know it’s going to help me when I get out there.”

USC coach Lane Kiffin said he was happy to see a positive resolution in Shaw’s case, which allowed him to forgo sitting out next season.

“That was great,” Kiffin said. “It’s good for the team obviously, but [also] because he’s such a neat kid and he really does a lot outside of here. Just really happy for him.”

As for the new safety’s potential role with the team, Kiffin believes Shaw has a chance to compete for a starting spot right away.

“Sure, he could [start],” Kiffin said. “Somebody who has already played down in the [Southeastern Conference], played for [Florida]. He has all the right tools.”

Kiffin was also quick to compliment his secondary as a whole, one that he says has made major strides over the spring.

“Our defensive backs are extremely improved,” Kiffin said. “I think they’re playing far better than they’ve ever played since we were here. It’d be pretty neat to see what it’s like to play some pass defense and have some three-and-outs and get some interceptions.”

Meanwhile, the Trojans remain banged up on both sides of the ball, as redshirt freshman cornerback Ryan Henderson, senior linebacker Dallas Kelley, junior linebacker Marquis Simmons, redshirt sophomore tight end Randall Telfer and freshman wide receiver Victor Blackwell were unable to participate Thursday. Kiffin hopes to have Henderson and Blackwell back on Saturday, which will be the final spring practice for the Trojans.

Saturday’s practice will not have tackling, but Kiffin said he still has some objectives for his team to accomplish.

“Stay healthy, number one, and really just play some down the line guys, get them some snaps,” Kiffin said.