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USC safety Josh Shaw gets the right number

His request to switch to a jersey with the numeral 6, in honor of former Trojans star Tim McDonald, is granted.

September 04, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC safety Josh Shaw runs back an interception for a touchdown during the Trojans' 30-13 victory over Hawaii.
USC safety Josh Shaw runs back an interception for a touchdown during the… (Eugene Tanner / Associated…)

USC safety Josh Shaw got a surprise when he walked into the McKay Center this week.

Hanging on his shoulder pads inside his locker was jersey No. 6.

"I started jumping up and down," Shaw said Wednesday.

Shaw, a transfer from Florida in spring 2012, wore No. 26 last season and in this season's first game. He requested the change to No. 6 last spring.

The single digit holds special significance for Shaw because of his relationship with former Trojans safety T.J. McDonald.

McDonald's father, Tim, an All-American for USC in 1985 and 1986, wore No. 6.

"If I can carry that tradition along," Shaw said, "then I'll be happy."

Shaw, a fourth-year junior from Palmdale, showed his playmaking skills in USC's 30-13 season-opening victory over Hawaii.

He intercepted a second-quarter pass and, with blocks from linebacker Hayes Pullard and defensive lineman George Uko, returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

"I'm a guy who has confidence in my ability when the ball's in my hand," Shaw said. "Hopefully, I'll get more opportunities like that."

Shaw, 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds, played safety last season before starting the last seven games at cornerback.

Shaw and fellow safeties Su'a Cravens and Dion Bailey played most of the game against Hawaii. But with cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Kevon Seymour suffering injuries in the opener, Shaw said he was prepared, if necessary, to return to cornerback for Saturday's Pac-12 Conference opener against Washington State at the Coliseum.

Regardless, he will be wearing No. 6 thanks to Coach Lane Kiffin, who has been more known for stripping players of numbers than for awarding them.

In April 2010, Kiffin took No. 1 from receiver De'Von Flournoy and former defensive back T.J. Bryant because, he said, they were not living up to the standard set by former All-American receiver Mike Williams.

Kiffin surprised Shaw — "one of our neatest kids," he said — because of Shaw's approach to the off-season and the way he took on a leadership role and helped younger players.

"I just thought it was a good thing," Kiffin said.

Cravens excited

Cravens made a splash with an interception in his first game.

Now, the freshman safety is looking forward to fulfilling a dream of playing for the Trojans in the Coliseum.

"I'm extremely excited," said Cravens, who came to USC from Vista Murrieta High. "My parents are going to be there, half my family is going to be there.

"My mom always told me when I was little, 'I can envision you running out to the Coliseum and me just crying.' So, I know I'm going to hear my mom yelling over all the people."

Quick hits

Tailbacks Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan, both recovering from knee injuries that have sidelined them since training camp, were in shoulder pads to start practice. Both left early with other players for rehabilitation…. Linebacker Morgan Breslin, who was sidelined against Hawaii because of injury, was taped and in full gear for practice. Coaches declined to say whether he practiced or would play Saturday, but the senior was the last defensive player off the field after the workout.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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