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Originally published Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:38 PM

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Former UCLA recruit Josh Shirley will join Huskies

Linebacker/defensive end Josh Shirley, who was not allowed to enroll at UCLA after being arrested on suspicion of stealing a purse, will play for the Washington Huskies.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Josh Shirley, one of the top defensive recruits on the West Coast last season, will play for the Washington Huskies.

Shirley, a linebacker/defensive end who signed with UCLA in February, was dismissed from the Bruins by coach Rick Neuheisel last month after being arrested on suspicion of stealing a purse.

The move comes two days after the Huskies announced they had dismissed tight end Kavario Middleton from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The Times later learned that Middleton had recently failed a drug test, among several issues that led to his departure.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said in a news release Thursday the school was comfortable allowing Shirley to join the team. Shirley had seriously considered signing with UW last winter before choosing UCLA. He had made an official visit the weekend the Huskies beat USC, and that relationship helped in the Huskies' decision to bring him in.

"We are very aware of the circumstances surrounding Josh," Sarkisian said in a statement. "We have done our due diligence and truly feel that this is not indicative of his true character or the way that he was raised. We are excited about the opportunity Josh has to excel on the football field, in the classroom and in his personal life in our environment, around our people at the University of Washington."

Shirley was one of three UCLA recruits who were dismissed from the team after being arrested on June 23 on suspicion of stealing a purse. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office this week referred the case to the City Attorney's Office to decide if misdemeanor charges should be filed, according to The Orange County Register.

UCLA announced earlier this month that all three players had been released from their letters of intent, allowing them to immediately enroll and play at another school. Shirley, who is 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, will be able to play for the Huskies this season.

Shirley, rated a four-star recruit by ESPN.com's Scouts Inc., figures to likely contend for immediate playing time at the strongside linebacker spot. Junior Alvin Logan and senior Victor Aiyewa, each converted safeties, are the leaders at the spot heading into the fall, but neither has played the position in a game.

Shirley's presence could allow UW to go with more 3-4 looks, something the Huskies said they might experiment more with this year if they run into depth issues at defensive end, where potential starters Kalani Aldrich (knee) and Everrette Thompson (Achilles) each missed the spring with injuries. Shirley could also emerge as a defensive end. The Huskies are listing him as both a linebacker and defensive end.

Shirley, from Fontana, Calif., was one of 12 semifinalists for the high-school Butkus Award and played in the U.S. Army All-America Game, where he scored a touchdown on a 77-yard return of a blocked field goal. He was the defensive MVP of the Sunkist League, co-defensive player of the year of the CIF Southern Section Eastern Division and a PrepStar All-American.

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