And Shirley picks…UCLA

If football doesn’t work out for Josh Shirley, poker should be his call. After rampant speculation of a final four of USC, Miami (Fla), Arizona and Washington, Shirley threw a curveball and picked UCLA – a school he didn’t take an official visit to.

“There were ups and downs, I’m not going to lie, but in the end, UCLA was where I wanted to be,” Shirley said. “It was between UCLA and Washington and I felt most comfortable in blue and gold.”

This flies in the face of the conventional wisdom of every recruiting service, my article in the Sun this morning and my blog entry from just over an hour ago. Even Shirley was a litte bit surprised.

“Two days ago I wasn’t even thinking about UCLA,” Shirley said. “I probably surprised a lot of people with that decision. I was looking for reasons to not go to every school on my list and UCLA had the least amount of reasons.”

While I was shocked at the announcement, a couple of things, in retrospect, should have tipped me off. When I saw Shirley in the lobby of the building where the studio was located, he had a UCLA letter of intent on top of a stack of papers. And a UCLA hat was surprisingly in the stack of caps brought into the studio, not to mention the fact that Shirley insisted on another UCLA hat after the original Bruin hat the station brought out didn’t fit.

After over an hour of pacing around and being nervous, Shirley was relaxed after the annoucement, signing his letter of intent in the Prime Ticket break room with a smile on his face. And afterwards, he somewhat marveled at his decision.

“That was a surprise,” Shirley said right before his contingent of family and friends left for a hearty meal at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.