What Shaw's eligibility means for the Trojans

Josh Shaw can play for the USC Trojans in 2012, the NCAA ruled on Thursday.

Actually, more appropriately: Josh Shaw will play for the USC Trojans in 2012.

He's that good. If he's healthy, which he hasn't been this spring, the Florida transfer will likely challenge for a starting spot with this year's squad and will be a virtual lock to get significant playing time in the secondary.

It's conceivable he could succeed Jawanza Starling as the starting strong safety, where he'd also have to fend off junior Demetrius Wright. It's also possible he could beat out Isiah Wiley for the second cornerback spot or slot in right behind him as the nickel back.

Regardless of where exactly he fits in, Shaw, who has been bothered by back and rib injuries in the spring and has not practiced, is going to provide a good amount of defensive back depth. With him, Wright, incoming junior-college signee Gerald Bowman and the four incumbent starters, USC is going to have seven playmaker-caliber upperclassmen in the secondary -- enough to pretty much play every snap if everyone stays healthy.

Add in talented-but-injury-prone players like Anthony Brown, Brian Baucham, Torin Harris and Drew McAllister, and the Trojans actually have a lot of people there. There shouldn't be any situations like last year, when USC was literally down to two corners at times and struggling to play the packages it wanted.

Then there's Shaw's experience level. He played for Florida for a full season last year, not starting but participating as a key backup. It has been a while since the Trojans have brought in someone with legitimate SEC experience onto their squad.

Coach Lane Kiffin was asked after Thursday's practice if Shaw could come in and start right away for USC -- or at least play significant snaps in a rotation.

"Sure he could," Kiffin said. "He's somebody that already played down in the SEC and has all the right tools.

"We've seen him run around and move around before he got hurt and so it'll be great. Not just on defense but obviously special teams."

He'll be a player to watch over the summer and in fall camp beginning in August.