Senior defensive end Josh Shirley has left the Washington football program, sources have told The Seattle Times.
Shirley, a former high school all-American from Fontana, Calif., would like to play his senior season closer to his native southern California, a source said.
Reached by phone, Shirley declined comment.
UPDATE: UW has confirmed the departure of Shirley and announced that sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Hindy has also left the program.
Hindy, from West Hills, Calif., appeared in two games for UW last season, in blowout victories over Idaho State and Colorado. He redshirted in 2012.
Shirley had 8.5 sacks for the Huskies as a redshirt freshman in 2011, when he started seven games. His starts and sack totals dipped each year after that; he posted 6.5 sacks and started three games in 2012.
As a reserve defensive end last year, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound Shirley was part of the Huskies’ special pass-rushing package called “Jetsons.” All three of his sacks in 2013 came in one game, at Illinois. He finished the season with 13 total tackles in 12 games. He missed one game with an injury.
As late as last year, some still projected Shirley as a potential first-round NFL draft pick.
One of the nation’s top linebacker recruits at Kaiser High, Shirley signed with UCLA but never played for the Bruins after being dismissed by then-UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel in the summer of 2010, in the same incident that led to the dismissal of receiver Paul Richardson, the Seahawks’ second-round draft pick in May. The players had initially been charged with suspicion of felony theft, but later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, according to the Los Angeles Times
“What had happened,” Shirley told The Seattle Times last fall, “was not in my character.”
Former UW coach Steve Sarkisian said last year that Shirley had been “amazing” in his time with the Huskies.
“He’s been a good student, he’s been great in the community, he’s been a good teammate,” Sarkisian said then. “I couldn’t ask for more than what he’s brought.”
Shirley was an honorable mention academic selection in the Pac-12 last year.
Unofficially, the departures of Shirley and Hindy leave the Huskies with 84 scholarship players — one under the NCAA limit of 85 — with just over a month until the start of fall camp on Aug. 4.